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Contentions

Averting Their Eyes

It does not seem like Peter Bergson was present at the White House with leaders of fourteen Jewish organizations on Monday. The meeting with sixteen Jewish “leaders” at the White House appears to be a scripted minuet in conflict avoidance. (This was made easier by excluding the Zionist Organization of America and the National Council of Young Israel, which have been openly critical of the president’s stance.) This was the level “concern” they could muster:

The view was expressed among the organizations at a minimum there was concern about an imbalance in pressures placed on Israel as opposed to on the Palestinians and Arab states,” Alan Solow, the chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JTA. “The president indicated he had a sensitivity to the perception of that imbalance and had to work harder to correct that perception.

Was there any dissent? Well, just a smidgen:

The only signs of contention — from Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s national director, and Malcolm Hoenlein, the Presidents Conference’s executive vice chairman — had to do with how Obama was handling his demand for a settlements freeze, not with its substance.

Hoenlein said that peace progress was likelier when there was “no daylight” between Israel and the United States. Obama agreed that it must always be clear that Israel has unalloyed U.S. support, but added that for eight years there was “no daylight and no progress.”

Hmm. Could there have been no progress because the Palestinians, after being offered their own state by Hillary Clinton’s spouse, have chosen rejectionism and violence? No one in attendance raised that possibility, it appears.

And no one seemed to take issue — at least none was reported — with Obama’s fractured history of the Middle East or his search for the Grand Bargain with the mullahs. On that front, representatives of two groups in attendance related to me that there was little resistance to the plan of the president looking for positive signals by September from Iran before looking at sanctions. One explained that “if the Iranians will demonstrate seriousness on the nuclear issue, we have a package for engagement.” (Does a single one of the sixteen not understand that the mullahs are expert at giving positive and entirely meaningless signals, thereby indefinitely stringing us all along?) A similar message was related to ABC News.

ABC also had this interesting and disturbing tidbit:

Another participant argued that Israel negotiates for peace from a stronger position when its leaders feel there is no public disagreement between Israel and the US.

The president disagreed, [National Democratic Jewish Council CEO Ira] Forman said, saying that  while it’s essential that Israelis are convinced of America’s deep commitment to Israel’s safety, his administration has to be honest about family disagreements. But he reiterated that progress in the peace process isn’t just Israel’s responsibility, and said Israel deserves credit for recent steps including opening up roads and providing more access for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Translation: if you think this administration is going to provide Israel with a reasonable comfort level or depart from its stance of moral equivalency, think again.


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