Today’s New York Times coverage of Obama’s meeting with the Saudi king yesterday makes no reference to Israel-Palestine. King Abdullah cares about arming the Syrian opposition, and Iranian nukes:
Saudi leaders have also expressed alarm at Mr. Obama’s diplomatic initiative with Iran to halt much of that country’s nuclear program, which they consider a serious threat to the region.
Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations also said that the Saudis are worried about possible Iranian nukes and arming the Syrian opposition. On National Public Radio Thursday, Robert Siegel asked, what about Israel and Palestine. They don’t care, Haass said.
SIEGEL: In that rather lengthy conversation you truncated for us of what the Saudis would tell the U.S. of what they’d like to see happen, you didn’t mention Israel and the Palestinians.
HAASS: You’re right, and the reason is that this issue, if it ever did hold the key to the region, no longer does. Even if it were to be resolved, and I don’t think the prospects are good for it, it would not change the dynamics on the ground in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, or really anywhere else. This issue has now become a local issue. It’s of great importance to Israelis and Palestinians, but it’s only of secondary importance to the Saudis and other Arab countries.
Apart from Siegel, American reporters don’t seem to care either. Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, responded to reporters’ questions about Obama’s agenda with the Saudi leaders on the plane yesterday. He addressed the Iran talks, Saudi demands to arm the Syrian opposition (with manpads– portable air-defense), Saudi support for the Egyptian military leaders, and Saudi human rights issues.
[S]tability ultimately is going to be best served by Egypt following through on its commitment to transition to free and fair elections and democratic governance… I think for decades the United States has been invested in Saudi Arabia as a source of stability in the region…
In yet another non-mention of the Israel-Palestine conflict, NPR did another story on the Saudi talks yesterday and reporter Scott Horsley quoted Ben Rhodes, from the above gaggle; Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Saban Center at Brookings (which Haim Saban started to support Israel); and Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (spun off from the Israel lobby group AIPAC).
Maybe the Saudis don’t care about Palestine. But I’d like to hear from a Saudi or an Arab-American, or Palestinian even.
P.S. I’d note that many of the above people quoted are Jewish. Ben Rhodes is half-Jewish. His brother David is president of CBS. Just further proof if it is needed that we are an important element of the US establishment. We have power and– noblesse oblige.