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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Doubting Obama's Sincerity

After two meetings with President Obama which ended with a cold shoulder, Israeli Prime-Minister Netanyahu has finally received his long awaited and much anticipated White House photograph with the U.S. President.   (Mahmoud Abbas had no trouble getting his photograph taken with the President)

Not only did Netanyahu have an opportunity to smile for the cameras, he also was allowed to stay at the coveted Blair House right across the street from the White  House instead of  opting for a standard Washington DC hotel.

Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, joked ahead of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting "There are going to be more photographers there than at the Academy Awards.”

There is no question that the change in the White House treatment of  Netanyahu is in response to an attempt by Obama to lure Jewish voters to the Democrats' side just in time for the November 2010 elections.

Will Jewish voters take the bait?  I would imagine some will unfortunately.

But, the real question is how long will Obama's rosy treatment of  Netanyahu last?

Obama asserted today at his July 6th meeting with the Israeli Prime-Minister that he and Netanyahu are 'friends.'  "The press in Israel and the U.S. like to make a story," Obama retorted.

But, the press did not concoct  a story when President Obama denied Netanyahu photo-op opportunities and left the Israeli entourage stranded in the White House last March. Friends do not treat friends the way Obama has snubbed Netanyahu during his two previous meetings at the White House.

The press was simply doing its job in reporting the news for a change.

While Netanyahu was treated better this time around, his grand entrance to the White House on July 6th did not come without high costs.

If you remember, Netanyahu was scheduled to meet Obama last month at the White House. Obama canceled that meeting following the Flotilla incident telling Netanyahu to "go home." [Netanyahu was in Canada when Obama abruptly canceled the meeting]

In order for Netanyahu to have his July 6th meeting with Obama under cordial terms, Israel had to significantly ease its naval blockade of Gaza which it did to Obama's approval.

Before the next meeting, Obama also expects Israel to extend its settlement freeze in the West Bank which expires in September.

By some chance Israel decides to not extend the settlement freeze; will Obama return to his cold stance and ban photo ops at future meetings between the two leaders?

Will Obama turn on Netanyahu if he builds another bathroom in East Jerusalem?

If so, Netanyahu might want to book his hotel room at the nearby Motel 6 for his next visit to Washington.

Doubting Obama's sincerity is  a logical reaction to the White House's royal treatment of Netanyahu.   Obama played Netanyahu like a fiddle this time securing far reaching compromises from the Israeli leader that were prerequisites for the red carpet treatment at the White House on July 6th.

Even Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority did not have to satisfy prerequisites for his recent meeting with Obama. All Abbas had to say was that the Palestinian Authority is not inciting its people to kill Jews which is an obvious lie and Obama was easily persuaded.

Clearly, Obama does not schedule his meetings with Abbas based on his perception of the Palestinian leader at the time of the meeting.

However, recent history has shown that Obama's treatment of Netanyahu depends on the political climate at the time of the meeting.

Jewish voters should be duly advised not to get their hopes up that Obama is a changed man. His mood swings will dictate how Netanyahu is treated the next time he visits Washington.

Obama could easily turn on Netanyahu at a moment's whim.