It should go without saying that the problem with Israel’s announcement of another 1600 illegal housing units in East Jerusalem wasn’t the timing of it, which is, so far as I can tell, the only thing Bibi Netanyahu has apologized for, but the policy of illegal expansion into Palestinian areas itself. It seems quite clear that Israel’s current government, rife with anti-Arab bigots like Avigdor Lieberman and flat-out colonists like the Interior Minister who made this announcement, is intent on not only thumbing its nose at the American President but also scuttling the looming peace talks.
I’ll be overseas when it happens, but I’ll be very interested to see what sort of reception the patriots at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) give Netanyahu when he comes to speak at their annual conference at the end of this month. The appropriate response would be stone silence. (Actually, the appropriate reaction would be to withdraw the invitation to speak.) A standing ovation for Bibi–the reflexive response granted Israel’s leader on these occasions–would send a controversial message here: it would give the impression that these Israelophiles approve of foreign leaders who insult the American Vice President (and, by extension, the President).
There can be honest disagreements about middle easy policy–the vast majority of American Jews, including me, would like to see a two-state solution; the American Likudniks, a minority of American Jews, would not. Every American President since Nixon has opposed the expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian lands, and every American President since Truman has fully supported the state of Israel, morally and financially. I’d hope that all American Jews, on both sides of the two-state issue, would agree that an insult directed at the Obama Administration is an insult directed at us all…and that AIPAC members, who I’m sure see themselves as Americans first, will behave accordingly.