Obama and Netanyahu as Bobbleheads.

Curious about President Obama’s trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority? Behold! The Israeli Embassy in Washington is here to help!

The Embassy produced a short video in advance of the trip, which, in the spirit of our times, is meant to both inform and amuse. You’ll find it below, but just in case you’re stuck in a super boring meeting, one of those meetings at which reading the Internet is possible but watching videos would be déclassé, let me describe it for you!

Air Force One takes off—and all of North Africa and the Middle East begins to quake! All except for the Gaza Strip, which has literally disappeared from the map (maybe it fell off when the quaking began?). As the plane comes in for a landing, it sounds very much as if it might crash, which serves as an unfortunately apt metaphor for my own fears surrounding the trip, but I’m sure that was unintentional.

We zoom over an Israel that includes all of the West Bank (though there is a very neatly drawn white line around it) and the Golan Heights (no line). Thereupon follows animation of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama mouthing lines from old speeches and looking unnervingly like two moderately creepy Bobbleheads. Smiles! Handshake!

And then we move into what is presumably Netanyahu’s office—they’re reading newspapers! As world leaders do when they get together! And to the strains of (hand to God I am not making this up) the Golden Girls theme song, Bibi and Barack drop the newspapers, smile, make a move as if they’re about to make out—and shake hands again! Fade out, as the words “The United States & Israel Ultimate Allies” come up on the screen.

Not just allies, not even “major strategic partners” as some (*cough* AIPAC *cough*) would have Congress rebrand the relationship—no, no! We Are The Ultimate Allies!

…aaaand scene. You’re welcome.

Through Jennifer Rubin’s looking glass.

jennifer rubinJennifer Rubin, like many on her side of the political map, seems to have not yet gotten the memo that building and maintaining alternate realities, while a pleasant enough hobby, is not necessarily useful in the non-entertainment professions. I say this because in Rubin World, the President of the United States is apparently going to Israel to make up for a single paragraph in a speech he delivered four years ago, in which he (ill-advisedly, I agree) made it sound as if Israel was established because of the Holocaust.

Never mind that the paragraph in question echoed exactly and precisely the rhetoric of both official Israel and the American Jewish establishment. In Rubin World, the Cairo event was “the speech that set off four years of ill feelings and mistrust.” It’s remarkable that Obama could do all that hard work all by himself.

The fact that the Israeli government has consistently greeted the arrival of American officials with renewed settlement expansion, for instance, has nothing to do with it. Neither does the fact that even during the supposed ten-month construction freeze,Israel didn’t actually stop the construction. This is because in Rubin World, the settlement project is not (as it is in Reality) an abrogation of international law and previous Israeli commitments to the United States (among other parties)—it is, merely, “building.” Rubin also writes that settlements have “never an impediment to peace talks under prior administrations,” rather creating the impression that the peace talks in question are to be held with the U.S., and not, in fact, the people on whose land Israel has been building all these years.

Rubin further tweaks Obama for “belittling” Netanyahu and his government (by which I can only imagine she means “disagreeing with”), but doesn’t seem concerned about Netanyahu’s open support for Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential campaign. Attempting to interfere in American elections might not rise to the level of “belittling,” but surely it might have added to the tension?

And then there’s Jerusalem.

Jennifer Rubin writes, with what I can only assume is a straight face, that Obama has put himself

in constant conflict with a country which can never agree not to allow Jews to live anywhere in its historic capital. (The notion that East Jerusalem should remain Judenfrei is an all-to-familiar assumption on the anti-Israel left…).

Whew. Let’s start with the fact that literally one paragraph after complaining about Obama’s mis-characterization of the Holocaust, Rubin leans on Holocaust imagery to paint the President as—what? An ersatz Nazi?

Then let’s examine her use of the word “historical”—to which history is Rubin referring? If she means the Jewish people’s historical holy city—roughly equivalent to the walled portion of Jerusalem known as the Old City—then she’s not talking about the current Municipality of Jerusalem.

Even if she’s talking about the city as it existed when Israel conquered the Palestinian neighborhoods and surrounding villages in 1967, she’s still not talking about the city as currently constituted. Indeed, at no time in history has Jerusalem looked like it does now: it’s three times bigger than the “reunited” city was in 1967, and a hundred times larger than it was a century ago. The area that we all rather inaccurately call “East Jerusalem” is not historically Jewish—most of it isn’t even historically Jerusalem.

And finally, “the anti-Israel left.” All I can really say to that is that Rubin needs to get out more.

I spent this past weekend at the J Street U Student Summit, where hundreds of highly motivated Lovers of Zion (a number of them wearing kippot) were discussing how best to save the Jewish State from its own worst impulses. In their advocacy, these American college students echo the work being done in Israel by Jews born and raised in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, Jews ranging from noted peacenik Amos Oz to noted former head of the Shin Bet Ami Ayalon. Is Rubin honestly suggesting that when all of these people say that Israel will have to share Jerusalem to save itself, they are “anti-Israel?”

I suppose she is, in fact, honestly suggesting that. I do not for one minute doubt Jennifer Rubin’s sincerity.

Her grasp on reality, on the other hand, is a different matter. I take heart, though, from how desperately wrong Rubin was on the Chuck Hagel nomination—again and again, and again, and again. To judge from that example, Obama and Netanyahu will be using the Presidential visit to announce a two-state agreement with a shared Jerusalem as its centerpiece.

As we say in our prayers: Ken yehi ratzon—may it be God’s will.

Crossposted from The Daily Beast/Open Zion.

Obama’s Israel trip on HuffPost Live.

I was on HuffPost Live this morning, talking about President Obama’s visit to Israel — he arrives tomorrow at noon, if memory serves. We discussed what we expect to see during the trip, what we’d like to see, and if there’s even any real point to the trip or, in fact, trying to do anything about Israel/Palestine peace at all.

So! If you’d like to see that discussion, click here. This time, I start right at the very beginning, and though it looks like I’m wearing a fetching cherry-red lipstick, my lips are, in fact, adorned with nothing but Carmex. Lighting!