Was there any substance to Tuesday's White House meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama?
According to reports, the Israeli flotilla raid was not discussed, the siege of Gaza wasn't brought up, Israel's undeclared nuclear arsenal remained in the closet and Israeli settlement expansion wasn't even mentioned.
Hmm; just what did they discuss? Oh yes, there was a discussion of peace talks with the Palestinians as Netanyahu had mentioned over the weekend before his departure to the U.S. would be a top priority. Don't hold your breath.
This wasn't a meeting of heads of state discussing anything substantive. This was a snooze, a congenial photo-op. In essence, it was a joke.
Just who was it meant to impress? Those on the American political and sectarian right who give knee-jerk support to anything Israel does? Or Congressional Democrats, so fearful of directly criticizing Israel and being branded as anti-Semitic by the likes of AIPAC, (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) -- the special interest organization and lobby that gets big donors to support their political campaigns?
How about the Palestinians? Were they impressed by the pressing of flesh between the two men?
Israel is and has been an occupying power since the 1967 war. It is in violation of international law with its occupation of the West Bank, the siege of Gaza, occupying the Golan Heights, piracy at sea, and flouting of the nuclear non proliferation treaty just to name a few of the violations of international law that they thumb their noses at. And we, the United States have been their main benefactor, provider and protector. Israel is the largest recipient of our foreign aid and indispensible defense while we ignore their apartheid treatment of the Palestinian people.
We are not the neutral arbiter between Israel and the Palestinians that could help mediate and broker a peace between the two antagonists. If we were, a just peace could have occurred long ago.
We have sat idly by; acquiescing as Israel has become more emboldened, gobbling up Palestinian lands in the West Bank, building a 23-foot wall around the West Bank whereby it separates itself from the tortured reality of the fenced-in Palestinians.
Hamas is a creation of the failure to achieve peace between the Fatah-led PLO and the Israeli government that, over the years, refused to seriously engage them to hammer out a peace accord. This could only have happened if the U.S. had put pressure on Israel to achieve a just peace with the Palestinians or else the U.S. would withhold the aid that props up the country and leads both to Israeli prosperity and to Palestinian suffering.
Now there are well over 400,000 mostly Orthodox and militant Jews in settlements throughout the West Bank who detest the Palestinians within their midst and would undoubtedly object and militarily resist any possible peace agreement establishing a Palestinian state (on lands the settlers confiscated from the Palestinians that they would have to abdicate as a necessary part of any peace deal).
So meanwhile, as the Israeli-inspired festering sore of Gaza continues unabated and the West Bank abuses of Palestinians by Israeli settlers continue to metastasize as the two sides descend further into an intractable morass of irreconcilable hardened positions, Obama and Netanyahu make nice in the White House. It just makes one feel warm all over.