Barack Obama, who stiffed the Israelis throughout his first term, is finally packing his bags for a visit to what we once called the Holy Land, before the world became an unholy mess. The Israelis have even put up an “app” on the Internet to enable everyone with a laptop to keep track of the trip in Hebrew, English and Arabic.
The app, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises, will feature “real-time updates, video, photographs and behind-the-scene glimpses of the visit,” with Web links to the prime minster’s office, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Now if only Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu actually do something worth talking about.
“Another day,” observes The Jerusalem Post, “another gimmick.” There’s lots to talk about, and both the president and the prime minister are practicing to give the other man an earful. Mr. Obama offered a hint or two last week when he called two dozen leaders of Jewish organizations in the U.S. to the White House for a briefing of sorts about what to expect.
The Jews, according to a description of the off-the-record session provided to the authoritative Jerusalem daily Haaretz, asked the president for more “clarity” about what they could expect from him when push, always reluctant, comes to shove over Iran. Mr. Obama, with a clever rebuke of Mr. Netanyahu, told them that he doesn’t believe in “extra chest beating” over Iran. He reserves the “extra chest beating” for himself (usually about himself). He promised more clarity, more or less, “but that isn’t because we haven’t been clear.”
He’ll take no new peace plan to Israel, which is probably just as well because the landscape of the Middle East is littered with peace plans and exhortations about “the peace process,” which isn’t about peace, but process. The “peace process,” as a wise man observed, “is about real peace in the way that processed cheese is about real cheese.”
The president, like certain presidents before him, is dedicated to the Velveeta approach. He’s aware that Israel “lives in a tough neighborhood” but Israel and “the other side” have an obligation to continue processing peace. When someone at the White House table told him that he should emphasize the obvious to those who dream of killing all the Jews — that Israel desires peace — Mr. Obama agreed. Then he added the moral equivalence so beloved by the “friends” of Israel: “It’s more important what you actually do for peace.”
He could have told them to buy the world a Coke, which is, in fact, pretty much what he said, not necessarily in Hebrew or English, but in fluent boilerplate. He said he would tell the Israelis that the only way to achieve real security is through a peace agreement and a two-state solution. “Jaw jaw” is nearly always better than “war war,” as Winston Churchill said, but promising “jaw jaw” in perpetuity is not much of a negotiating tactic.
The “other side” understands that well. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei boasted not long ago that “I’m not a diplomat, I’m a revolutionary.” The mullahs, Ali Khamenei foremost among them, watched the confirmation hearings of the pathetic Chuck Hagel and the confused John O. Brennan and could easily speculate that the American appetite for endless “jaw jaw” would not likely be sated until the Islamic bomb was developed, built and deployed. Mr. Obama repeated to his White House briefing his boast that such a bomb would be prevented, not “contained,” as Mr. Hagel put it at his confirmation hearing. Mr. Hagel, of course, first told the hearing the president favored containment — then said it was a slip of his tongue. But slips are not allowed for such high-ranking tongues.
The president won’t hear more than polite applause from the Netanyahu government for his approach to dealing with Iran — speak softly and carry a Styrofoam stick — but there is an appetite for soft cheese, one found in surprising places.
Ami Ayalon, the former director of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security agency, touts his four-part plan to resolve the hostility that threatens the Zionist dream. Some of it sounds good to the war weary. He not only supports a two-state solution, but urges American support for the Palestinian bid at the United Nations for statehood, even including a “unity government” of Fatah and Hamas — but only if the terrorists promise to behave themselves.
Mr. Obama, pressing for the elusive diplomatic solution to the Iranian threat to build the Islamic bomb, quotes the ancient Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu: “Build a golden bridge for your opponent to retreat upon.” Nice work, if you could get the opponent to use such a bridge. The evildoers in the Middle East would blow it up and pocket the gold.
• Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.