Operation Desert Schmooze Commences

By Jeffrey Goldberg

President Obama has arrived in Israel, and he and the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, are "thrilled" to have this opportunity to meet. I'm sitting in a holding area outside the prime minister's residence, where the two leaders will hold their discussion shortly. It will be a "frank" and "candid" and "businesslike" discussion, no doubt. The president's mission, to charm the pants off Israelis, seems to be working so far -- his opening remarks at the arrival ceremony at Ben-Gurion airport could not have been more pro-Israel. He actually sounded like my rabbi. Actually, my rabbi might bring a bit more nuance to the subject:

I'm so honored to be here as you prepare to celebrate the 65th anniversary of a free and independent State of Israel.  Yet I know that in stepping foot on this land, I walk with you on the historic homeland of the Jewish people.

More than 3,000 years ago, the Jewish people lived here, tended the land here, prayed to God here.  And after centuries of exile and persecution, unparalleled in the history of man, the founding of the Jewish State of Israel was a rebirth, a redemption unlike any in history.

Today, the sons of Abraham and the daughters of Sarah are fulfilling the dream of the ages -- to be "masters of their own fate" in "their own sovereign state."  And just as we have for these past 65 years, the United States is proud to stand with you as your strongest ally and your greatest friend.

Tomorrow, he will undoubtedly deliver more complicated remarks, and I'll write about those in a few minutes.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/03/operation-desert-schmooze-commences/274191/