Obama, Netanyahu and their embarrassingly effective PR

The stories of the US and Israel's feud bares more resemblance to gossip mag hysteria than news, and for good reason too.

Submitted by Daniel Renwick on March 18, 2010

The majority of the media are enchanted by the agents of disinformation. Critical thought that is so important to good reporting is thrown out the window, and like a bad article in Heat or Look, the press reports the rift between Israel and America as so bad Joe Biden even turned up late for dinner! This week’s Heat magazine has a split front page, depicting a war between Nadine Coyle and Cheryl Cole. Yet, in all probability, the story is a convenient sub-story to detract attention from Cheryl's bad health and love woes. Like all good PR, such front pages distract readers from what is really happening. The news of the US's confrontation with Israel is much the same. Jonathan Freedland’s article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/mar/16/israel-slapped-america-bibi-hillary) in yesterday’s Guardian is the dignified centrist’s equivalent of a gossip mag; peppered with quotes that suggest a rift between Netanyahu and Obama - selling newspapers and provoking 'debate'. Freedland's failure to see that engaging in a PR storm is mindless conjecture leads him to the preposterous suggestion that Obama is considering regime change!

Do not be fooled by the folly. 1,600 new housing units will be built in a settlement block in East Jerusalem, with the blessing of the United States. This was made emphatic with Hilary Clinton’s deputy, James B. Steinberg, on Tuesday’s Newsnight when he basically confirmed, for the good of the process, Israel will be allowed to carte blanche reject US calls to halt settlement expansion. Hilary Clinton, who spoke of the insulting nature of the announcement on Friday, now talks of an “unshakable” bond between Israel and America. What could have changed her mind? What have the Israelis got on America?

Such questions are the manifestation of PR at its best. America are not appalled or “incandescent with rage”, they have allowed the expansion. Let us not forget, Obama, who was so reliant upon AIPAC’s support for the nomination as the Democrat’s candidate supports the long-term goal of Jerusalem becoming the capital of Israel. Obama, far from considering regime change, is, and has always been, a committed zionist. Whether this is Obama's actual political position, or whether Obama is constrained by the lobbyists on the hill is beside he point. One only need look at the youtube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA5VatqG4nQ) where Obama is so gagged on the issue of Palestine that he can barely construct a coherent sentence, let alone speak, illustrates that the man is as far away from bringing peace as his predecessor.

The official line that this has somehow impeded the proposed two-state solution is a fallacy. It is widely understood that Israel consider settlements not as autonomous communities, but part of the social fabric of Israel. Seeing them as an integral part of the state means they will be connected to central infrastructure. Israeli only roads will be constructed, more Palestinian water will be seized and slowly the Palestine we all wish the world would recognise becomes an unrecognisable monster -a cluster of island states which require an internal passport to navigate around. It high time the mainstream media actually assess the meaning of "two-state solution", as opposed to banding it around as if there is any form of consensus.

Obama's apologists will seize upon all this as too harsh. Imploring me to "give the man some time" before I dismiss him. Correct me if I am wrong, but have we not given his administration well over a year? A year in which they have continued arming Israel, expanded the Dayton army in the West Bank, dismissed the Goldstone report, maintained a Neo-Conservative Pentagon, started a "drone war" in Pakistan, escalated troops in Afghanistan, supported the overthrowing of Manuel Zeleya and occupied Haiti. Am I wrong to judge a man by his actions, not by his words?

Like all good PR the news of a rift is a brilliant side show. While Israel have grossly offended the US, Palestinians who have been evacuated from their land are barely mentioned. Obama is now valorised by the likes of Freedland who sees "40 minute conversations" and late dinner appointments as substantive signs of US anger, that have "woken Obama up". The sad news is, Obama is more than conscious of what he is doing and does not need any more apologists. Under his premiership voiceless Palestinians (among many other subalterns) will continue to be dispossessed while Western media struggles to excuse further disregard for justice.