"Get to the damn table," Panetta said, like an irate father calling obstreperous children to dinner. He apparently hadn't heard that it was President Obama who set pre-conditions for talking about a complete construction freeze in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The president delays things by making the Palestinians even more recalcitrant than usual.
The president and his men could usefully read a new book, "Deception: Betraying the Peace Process," which describes the way the Palestinian Authority deliberately and systematically undermines the mutual trust necessary to accomplish anything. Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik meticulously document the way the Palestinians indoctrinate children to hate Jews, to idolize terrorists and deny Israel's right to exist.
In one chilling example in an "education" magazine sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, a teenage girl describes a dream of meeting her hero, Hitler, who tells her that he killed Jews to show her how horrible Jews are.
A close reading of the book could clear certain White House heads of the foolishness of Howard Gutman, the U.S. ambassador to Belgium (and a chief Obama fundraiser), who draws poisonous distinctions between the ancient anti-Semitism persistent in Europe and the anti-Semitism of Islamists, which he says arises from the behavior of the Jews. He wouldn't blame the Holocaust on the Jews, where European anti-Semitism was pervasive, but suggests that the Israelis can resolve Jew-hatred today by changing their ways. Every new settlement in Israel, he says, exacerbates the problem.
The White House quickly distanced the president and his administration from the ambassador's dictionary definitions of two kinds of anti-Semitism, but not before Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich accused the administration of undermining an ally. Newt said the president should fire the ambassador.
The two Republican presidential front-runners offer strong alternatives toward Israel. Romney said that his first foreign trip as president would be to Israel. (Obama hasn't visited Israel at all.) Newt promises to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Both challenge Obama's approach as unsympathetic, if not hostile, to Israel.
Jewish voters, many of whom are still enamored of the president, might think long and hard about how their man actually regards what's at stake in the Middle East, and how he might deal with Israel if he is re-elected and no longer has to worry about running for office or campaign money from the Jews.