Akiva Eldar, the Israeli reporter, reveals that, in a meeting with Jewish Members of Congress, the President was apologetic about his tough stand on settlements.
Hopefully, the report is false. Both the American Jewish community and the American people at large support Obama on this issue. The 78% of American Jews who voted for him are not Israel-firsters or they wouldn't have voted for him in the first place. Jews who put Israeli interests first vote Republican because, since Jimmy Carter's day, they know that the Democrats will promote negotiations and the Republians won't. (Of course, even the Democrats don't do much). And they know that Barack Obama does not share their contempt for Muslims and Arabs.
Also, Obama should not meet with Jewish Representatives about Israel per se. First, none of these guys represent Jews. They represent St. Paul or West Los Angeles or Manhattan or whatever. It is one thing to meet with African-Americans as African-Americans on domestic issues because they are not meeting with the President to convey messages from a foreign government. Members of Congress represent only their own constituency, not their tribe.
As for the AIPACs, American Jewish Committes, and the rest, they simply mouth the Israeli line which they get from the Israeli government. Israel is a sovereign country and it has an ambassador to the United States. He represents Israel. The Jewish lobby represents wealthy older Jews (i.e. themselves, and nobody but themselves). The President should discuss matters relating to Israel the same way he discusses matters relating to the UK -- with its representatives.
On top of that, the lobby is collapsing. The President should read Peter Beinart's amazing piece on the lobby's collapse before he wastes five seconds with AIPAC, Eric Cantor or Gary Ackerman. These people are irrelevant on the Middle East. (Ackerman is the go-to guy on matters relating to Queens and Cantor can speaking for the Republican Robots in Congress).
Ignore these guys, Mr. President. And remember General Petraeus' warning: the Israeli-Palestinian status quo is endangering America. That should be the President's main concern: keeping America and Americans safe. And that means pushing Israelis and Palestinians to a final status solution, now. Not just for them. For us.
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