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Where in the World is Barack Obama?

Yesterday, the State Department announced that Secretary of State Clinton was leaving on a trip to “France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel,” with “a stop in Israel on July 16-17.” In yesterday’s State Department press conference, a reporter posed a “logistical” question to Director Patrick Ventrell:

QUESTION: For every single country she’s going to, it lists the cities that she’s visiting, except for Israel. So this is a semi-trick question: Is she going to be visiting the capital of Israel?

MR. VENTRELL: The Secretary will be in Israel and she will meet with Israeli officials.

QUESTION: Where?

MR. VENTRELL: At this point, I don’t know where those meetings are going to be, but obviously as we get closer, the team will have more information.

QUESTION: You don’t know if they’ll be in Jerusalem or if they will be in Tel Aviv?

MR. VENTRELL: We can presume that she will visit multiple sites in Israel on this trip.

They just can’t bring themselves to say that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, can they?

They can’t answer the question of where the capital is, or where Clinton will visit (although the answer to both questions is obvious), lest someone press them on whether Jerusalem is in Israel. Perhaps while she is there on July 16 or 17, Secretary Clinton will be asked if she still takes the position that even symbolically treating Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would jeopardize the non-existent peace process.

Mazeld’s comment to Jonathan Tobin’s post on the trip suggests it would be more significant if Clinton were accompanied by Defense Secretary Panetta and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which would send a message to Iran that if Israel decides it must act to protect itself in the coming months, it will be backed by the United States.

Which raises an important question as the Iranian centrifuges continue to whirl: Where in the world is Barack Obama?