Operation Desert Schmooze, Hi-Tech Edition

By Jeffrey Goldberg

President Obama's visit to Israel strikes me -- and others -- as the most expensive Birthright trip ever staged. Except that this one isn't paid for by Sheldon Adelson.

At this moment, he's touring an ad hoc hi-tech fair that was set up with the express purpose of ruining the aesthetics of the Israel Museum. So far, it's been tree-planting and Iron Dome-watching, and tomorrow he'll be at Yad Vashem and Mt. Herzl. This is a good time to reiterate that this is not what he actually wanted to do on a visit to Israel (here's my idea of what he actually would have wanted to do).

It seems pretty clear, based on the wall-to-wall Israeli media coverage, and several conversations with people who might be called average Israelis (as if there is such a thing), that  Obama's charm offensive is working well. The big test comes this afternoon, when he speaks to a large group of young Israelis, and challenges them to think about the future of their country, and about their relations with the Palestinians.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/03/operation-desert-schmooze-hi-tech-edition/274231/