I agree with Ross Kaminsky's comment that the the Sarkozy/Obama tête-à-tête doesn't constitute news -- unless we're willing to consider its context. Aaron Goldstein made mention of the event, but neglected to mention a crucial element of the story. Now I find myself in the uncomfortable position of defending the president, but c'est la vie as Mr. Sarkozy might say...
The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz has reported that Mr. Obama was taking Mr. Sarkozy "to task for backing a Palestinian request for membership of the UN cultural heritage agency UNESCO." As we all know, that bid that was approved despite American opposition. The BBC confirms the browbeating.
However, the remarks do indicate a breakdown of trust with the Israeli leader which could have wider implications for the Middle East peace process. Let us not forget that concerns about Bibi's integrity are widely echoed in Israel. The Kadima party's recent campaign slogan literally read "Bibi -- I Don't Believe Him." Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon expressed concerns to the Jerusalem Post regarding Netanyahu's silver tongue, in response to the recent microphone snafu. One need look no further than Bibi's recent insistence on Meet the Press that Obama was just as much a friend of Israel as George W. Bush, to question the veracity of his statements. Kidding, of course...
Something to consider before we fall all over ourselves to defend the Israeli president's honor at the expense of the administration's continued support for him. We're critically involved in this peace process, and we need to be able to depend on reliable partners. We can all agree that Abbas isn't trustworthy. Maybe it's time to consider whether Netanyahu isn't, himself. I say this because Israel is America's crucial ally, and will not benefit from our false friendship that reflexively echoes the "status quo" lobby.
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