During a meeting with Jewish Democrats it was suggested — by which participant(s) we don’t know — that Obama should visit Israel. I mused about such a trip earlier this month. Yes, let’s see Obama interact with the Israeli people and go to the Knesset. Let him give interviews to Israeli media. Let him conduct a press conference in Jerusalem.
I suspect that Obama won’t go anytime soon because of the prospect of such events and because of the White House’s inability to stave off protests, catcalls, and boos in a country where citizens are not shy about expressing their political sentiments. The fact that an American president might very well be booed in the Jewish state is indicative of the pathetic status of U.S.-Israeli relations.
Now, if you think I am exaggerating the prospect of an unfriendly welcome, consider that two “right-wing activists” (funny how the media never calls J Streeters “left-wing activists”) are threatening to disrupt the bar mitzvah of Rahm Emanuel’s son at the Western Wall “with catcalls and disgust.” (No, I don’t approve — the sins of the father shouldn’t be visited on his son.) That’s the child of his chief of staff — so imagine if Obama himself went. And then there is this to consider:
Another possible problem with Emanuel’s plan may be that the site sits beyond the historic Green Line, which used to separate Israel from Jordanian-controlled territory until the Six Day War of 1967. Since then, Israel has controlled all of the Old City of Jerusalem and its religious sites, but U.S. policy still classifies the area as “occupied territory” and officials are discouraged from spending time there other than for diplomatic duty and work assignments.
Recall that when Obama was in suck-up mode with American Jews (who gave him a pass for 20 years of listening to the anti-Semitic ravings of Rev. Wright) during the campaign, he went to the Wall, in which he touchingly placed a note. No, he didn’t at the time mention that he wanted to carve up Jerusalem. But now that it’s out in the open, wouldn’t it seem extraordinarily hypocritical (even for him) to go there? Yes, we’ve come to the point where a trip to the Wall by an American president becomes an act of gross hypocrisy. Tragic, really.