Mondoweiss / August 26, 2021
The mood of the Naftali Bennett visit to the White House was set yesterday when Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the prime minister, “Maybe you have something to teach us,” with reference to Bennett’s diverse governing coalition.
The comment came after the Israeli Prime Minister joked about Israel’s endless elections.
Bennett: “I have news to you, there’s no elections in Israel now.”
Blinken: “I have to say–not that I want to intrude in your politics… I was going to say, maybe you have something to teach us. We look forward to learning about that too.”
This is the script that the Israel lobbyists wanted Blinken and Biden to have: that Bennett’s wide-ranging political coalition, which includes left-leaning and rightwing legislators, as well as, historically, four members of an Islamist Palestinian party, is a model for the United States.
Biden will surely make the same comment praising Israeli democracy later today, you can count on it.
In his public remarks yesterday, based on the video released by the Israeli government, Blinken mentioned Palestinians only once, as a “challenge,” after a lot of praise for Israel and expressed concern about Iran.
Expect the same with Biden today: scant reference to Palestinians, and of course nothing about the apartheid charges landing on Israel.
Israel lobbyists have told the White House that Israel can teach the United States about democracy. An adviser to Bennett named Micah Goodman told NPR that yesterday:
“Here in a world that’s polarized, Israel is performing an experiment in politics where the equivalent of Elizabeth Warren and the equivalent of Ted Cruz are working together. It’s trying to model for the world that it’s possible for opposites to work together. And how? – if we replace idealism with pragmatism. And the example we’re working on here is not fulfilling our dreams to end the conflict, but, yes, working forward towards shrinking the conflict.”
Bennett said similar things in prompting Blinken yesterday:
“You’ll find no friend that is more reliable and appreciative than us. I bring from Israel a new spirit, a spirit of folks who sometimes harbor different opinions, but work together in cooperation and goodwill, in a spirit of unity, and we work hard to find things we do agree on and move forward with it. And it seems to be working. And it’s the same spirit I want to bring to our relationship of cooperation, of good will, of friendship.”
Both leaders spoke about Iran and regional stability, and Israel’s security, and Blinken mentioned Palestinian in passing.
“We look forward to addressing all these challenges that we face, particularly regional security…and Iran… as well as dealing with other challenges, including the relationship to the Palestinians, which is very important to all of us.”
Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-2006