Democratic Reps Engel (l) and Wasserman Schultz embrace rightwinger Naftali Bennett
The Obama trip to Israel and Palestine was a good reminder of how circumscribed American mainstream opinion is on Israel. Everyone on the big broadcasts spoke of the two-state solution as good and necessary and around the corner–as if it’s about to step out of a clamshell like Venus. There was little reflection of a fact that Obama himself emphasized, Israel is becoming more and more isolated (though Richard Engel did a good piece on NBC about Israel building walls around its alleged borders to keep out trouble, all those Arabs who evidently seek political rights).
A singular example of the happy talk comes from a powerful politician who traveled out to Israel on Obama’s plane: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the head of the Democratic National Committee. Wasserman Schultz is generally a big liberal. Not on this issue. Below are some of her most thoughtful pronouncements:
And they hugged him right back!/RT
@politicoroger: Richard Engel on Meet the Press: “Obama went to Israel to give them a big hug.”
Tonight at the Wall in
#Jerusalem w/ @RepEliotEngel during #ObamainIsrael trip. #Israel pic.twitter.com/NAo5DYcJ22
Accompanying the photo at the top of this post, she tweeted:
But as Wasserman Schultz says in her statement below, she is for a Palestinian state. Naftali Bennett opposes any Palestinian state. “I will do everything in my power, forever, to fight against a Palestinian state being founded in the Land of Israel,” he said.
Then here is Wasserman Schultz’s statement after the Obama speech, which she went to with Secretary of State John Kerry. “President Obama to Israelis: You Are Not Alone.” Not a discouraging word. Though yes, Israel is under attack once again:
“As the President stated unequivocally in his speech to the people of Israel today, ‘Israel is not going anywhere… so long as there is a United States of America, ah-tem lo lah-vahd (you are not alone).’ President Obama’s speech and entire visit reaffirmed this message and the strong bonds of friendship between the U.S. and Israel – from our shared values and dreams, to our shared priorities of security, peace, and prosperity. His message restated America’s unwavering commitment to protecting the Jewish State – a commitment whose necessity we remember even today, as two rockets from Gaza landed in Israel this morning.
“Sharing his personal connection to the Jewish and Israeli story, President Obama touched on Israel’s origins and the long journey of the Jewish people to achieve their historic homeland. With this powerful backdrop, President Obama spoke directly about our shared vision for a just and peaceful future in the region, hopeful that as we continue bolstering Israel’s stability and security, Israelis and Palestinians can come together to achieve a lasting two-state solution through direct bi-lateral negotiation.
“As Jews, our tradition and history compel us to pursue justice and tikkun olam, in our own backyards and in our communities around the world. Like President Obama, I too believe we must unite to meet the challenges before us as we work to repair the world.”
I believe that Wasserman Schultz’s invocation of Jewish tradition at a time when Israel is occupying Palestinian land and denying any rights to millions of Palestinians will strike some Jews and non-Jews too as a very poor reflection on that tradition. Also, I wonder: Is she really this shallow, or is she just in the fundraising business and knows this is what some people want to hear?