Jewish Right To Israel

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Obama vs. Israel? Let The Spin Begin! (Updated)

The Obama administration has started a major PR pushback, intended to reassure the Jewish community--and Congress--that there is nothing to all those stories about friction, and worse, between Obama and Netanyahu.

In W.H. launches Israel P.R. offensive, Laura Rozen recounts what has gone into the PR blitz so far--

o Obama and Secretary of State Clinton congratulated Israel on Israel’s Independence Day and conveyed best wishes to Netanyahu.

White House political adviser David Axelrod spoke twice: at an Independence Day event in Washington hosted by Israeli Ambassador Oren in Washington and at the National Jewish Democratic Council.
Clinton gave a friendly speech to a revived pro-Israel Middle East peace think tank headed by former Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.)
National Security Adviser Jim Jones spoke at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the pro-Israel think tank.
National Security Council Iran strategist Dennis Ross and Michelle Obama’s chief of staff Susan Sher, met with more than 20 Jewish House Democrats to reassure them about Obama’s support for Israel and his commitment to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
In Jerusalem, at a public appearance with Netanyahu, Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell went out of his way to reiterate Obama’s Independence Day message to Israel and added:
That has been American policy. That is American policy. That will be American policy. The president has stated it clearly and convincingly, and I am here today as a tangible demonstration of the workings of that policy on a day-to-day basis on issues of critical interest to both our governments and our people.
So, is it working? It's probably too early to tell--this past Thursday, Sen. Chuck Schumer blasted the Obama administration on the tough tone it was taking towards Israel. But it is probably only a matter of time for the new message to seep down.

More importantly, as Rozen notes: all that has changed is the window dressing:
Still, officials and Washington Middle East watchers emphasize, that what has changed is the public relations strategy for the policy, not U.S. policy. And that does not change the fact that substantive disagreements remain between the U.S. and Israeli governments on issues such as East Jerusalem.
According to a former Democratic official:
“What happened here, is they came to a moment of truth about 10 days, two weeks ago, ‘we have failed,’” the former Democratic official continued. “’Our Middle East policy and posture is in chaos, is in failure, and there is no way to ignore it. And therefore, what do we do about it?’ And they decided, we need to change the posture. They realized they were going down a bad path. So they launched a PR campaign — a blitz — entirely to support the policy.”
The plan is that the Jewish community, and Israel's supporters, will put up with any Israeli policy just so long as the Obama administration whispers sweet nothings in its ears.

Will that work?
Well, when hasn't it?

Too bad this won't work on Iran.

UPDATE: That's right: policy is one thing, public relations is another--and some things never change:

According to Fox News:
A senior Palestinian official said Abbas was inclined to agree to the talks, in large part because of personal appeals in recent days from Obama, Mitchell and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing internal Palestinian deliberations.
Jennifer Rubin notes:
Wait. Abbas is meeting with Obama at the White House after the multiple snubs to Netanyahu? Yup. And it’s not hard to figure out why. The Obami are rewarding intransigence and bribing Abbas not to embarrass George Mitchell and crew by wrecking the proximity talks.
The problem continues to be not so much whether Israel is an ally, but that these days US allies are treated so shabbily.

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