It’s no secret that there’s been a rift between Israel and the United States in the past few months.
Ask any non-Jew following the news. Or better yet, one not following along. Even ask most Jews — actions and events both within and outside Israel’s control have caused months of miscommunications, leading to a relationship that’s been strained. And that’s putting it lightly.
First came the announcement of resuming settlement construction in eastern Jerusalem on the day Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel. The tension only rose from there, peaking with the Turkish flotilla incident that set off an international wave of criticisms lobbed against Israel, mostly arguing against Israel’s right to maintain its blockade on Gaza.
So it goes without saying that when President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat down to talk on Tuesday in the Oval Office, all eyes were on the two men.
What did they talk about, exactly? Many issues were certainly discussed (see Ron Kampeas’ story, page 13), but what’s most relieving is simply this: they talked. Two men, leaders of nations both involved in their own volatile national situations, sat down, spoke man to man and even laughed a bit.
It’s amazing what a little face-to-face contact can do to pacify a situation.
Will this week’s meeting actually bring about any policy change? No, but that’s not the point — nothing gets done without open lines of communication, and Obama and Netanyahu have finally regained them.
Obama also went as far as re-declaring the U.S.’s support for Israel, a move that surely brought back some confidence to Netanyahu.
“We strongly believe that given its size, its history, the region that it’s in and the threats that are leveled against us — against it — that Israel has unique security requirements. It’s got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region,” said Obama. “And that’s why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security.”
Though the statement didn’t address any specific “next moves,” it set the record straight as to whether Obama’s support of Israel had waivered in the shaky past few months, proving that there’s very little a bit of friendly conversation can’t heal.