So much for the charm campaign. At Friday’s press conference, Obama went out of his way to make it clear that he is pressuring Israel to extend the settlement moratorium. Why is he back to strong-arming Israel — and doing it publicly to boot? Well, let’s be honest here: the charm offensive was an act; the policy toward Israel and the “Muslim World” has been consistent from day one in this administration. Rather than as a valued ally, the Obami regard Israel as an impediment to peace and a barrier to better relations between its Arab neighbors and the U.S.
But there is something else going on here. A Democratic, pro-Israel activist is blunt with me: “So much for having figured it out and ‘letting the parties sort it out.’ Now you can be sure the Palestinians are walking out and the administration is laying ground to blame Israel.” Indeed, why else would Obama in the midst of delicate negotiations bring this up at a press conference? It surely isn’t to make the Palestinians feel pressure to remain in the talks. He’s not calling for a moratorium on killing Jews, nor is he publicly advising Mahmoud Abbas that he’d be throwing away a golden opportunity for peace if he runs from the talks. The most he is telling Abbas is to accept the Israelis’ concessions, if they knuckle under to Obama. (He said to Abbas: “You’ve got to show the Israeli public that you are serious and constructive in these talks so that the politics for Prime Minister Netanyahu, if he were to extend the settlements moratorium, would be a little bit easier.”)
The New York Times dryly reports: “His comments surprised some administration officials because of a customary concern that the United States not appear to be pushing Israel.” They should stop being surprised; if they haven’t figured out the Obama bullying game by now, they really are deluding themselves. The same should be said of all the Jewish “leaders” who cooed about a change of heart by the Obama team.