The countless words that were written and broadcast in the past few days, the numerous reports and commentary before, during and after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “historic trip” to the United States threatened to overwhelm us. But the truth is that even after the White House visit, we don’t know much. Nevertheless, I am throwing my modest opinion into the fray.
In the eyes of senior administration workers in Washington, the differences between one president or another are in the size of the smile on his face, a hand on the foreign leader’s the back as the two go up the stairs (the president already knows that the photographers are waiting for this moment) and other small examples of this kind that have nothing to do with the big picture. Because the big picture, my friends, does not change. A president goes, a president comes, and the policy always remains the same.
2. Words—The media interest in such a visit focuses on words. What the president said, what the prime minister didn’t say. The words were written by their assistants in meetings held before the visit—they shout, argue, concede, insist. The written speeches are ready a few days in advance, and corrections are sometimes made at the last moment. In normal times, copies are even exchanged between the White House and Jerusalem to avoid any embarrassment. Therefore, for example, it’s important to hear on the days before the visit from Isaac Molho, Netanyahu’s emissary these days. It’s waste of money to call the ambassador. He knows nothing.3. Love—The president touched, the president embraced, the president complimented Mrs. Netanyahu. The prime minister and his wife were even accommodated at the official guesthouse, Blair House. The fact that all Israeli prime ministers in the past stayed there dozens of times doesn’t matter right now. Love, we loved, we love, we will love. Words, words, words. 4. We have time—This is of course the main reason why the Israeli prime minister visits Washington frequently. The White House, the State Department and the Pentagon are like a giant aircraft carrier far out at sea, which needs to change its course. But by the time the order from the Washington reaches the helmsman, the entire Middle East can be conquered, if anyone is so inclined. The Americans, as I have written before, have a lot of time. 5. He will learn eventually—The visit’s coverage teaches us that Donald Trump is still ignorant about the Middle East and has almost no idea what it’s all about. If he said at the press conference, “I’m looking at two states and one state, and I like the one that both parties like,” it means that he hasn’t even started studying the complicated situation he is diving headfirst into, bringing the whole country with him. This couldn’t have happened to previous presidents: They had the Israeli-Palestinian conflict pumping through their veins, and at least some of them were familiar with every stone in the Western Wall and every turn in the Western Wall Tunnels. Trump will also learn in the coming years that there is no such thing as “one state, two states, whatever you like.” Very soon, he will understand the need for a forced agreement in the Middle East, because the minimum demanded by Israel doesn’t even scratch the surface of the Palestinian demands.
6. Trump—He remains the same old Trump, for better or for worse. The difference between him and Barack Obama is that Trump is trying to be “popular” and offers huge quantities of smiles. But at this stage, he remains the same old Trump, who will not condemn racism and anti-Semitism and is unpleasant to those around him. He will still give us a hard time, but he will do it with a silver tongue. In this context, he should be in direct contact with Netanyahu. There is no other person like him in that aspect.