In a paragraph oozing cynicism, this Guardian leader comments on Barack Obama's visit to Israel:
When a presumptive US presidential candidate arrives in Jerusalem, he willingly dons a jacket designed by Israeli tailors. He is compelled to call the country a miracle, to visit the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem and to link the memory of the 6 million Jews who died in Europe to Israeli victims of Palestinian violence today. It was no accident that at Yad Vashem Barack Obama met the policeman who stopped the rampage of a Palestinian bulldozer driver that injured 16 Israelis on Monday.
Even by the Guardian's standards in its coverage of Israel, this is foul stuff. Never mind miracle - but is there anything of, let's just say, achievement in the fact that the Jewish people, after what befell them in Europe and surrounded by enemies, created a Jewish homeland, and a democracy at that in a region not exactly brimming with democracies? Is there anything wrong with a visitor to Israel paying his respects at Yad Vashem to the memory of several million dead? Granting that there are specificities separating the 'Israeli victims of Palestinian violence' from those who perished during the Holocaust, is there not also a link of a kind in that in both cases we are talking of innocents, people deliberately killed not for anything they'd done but because of the general population group they belonged to?
But notice something else in the general presentation here: though Obama dons the jacket 'willingly', it seems that he is 'compelled' to do the things he does - to say miracle, visit Yad Vashem, make the lamented link. Really? We are to believe, for example, that he would not have gone to Yad Vashem just on his own steam? How does the Guardian know this? We are to believe that the Israelis have a way of getting visiting politicians to do what they otherwise mightn't? Being Jews, they'll have the knack for that, I suppose.
The editorial goes on from this fetid introduction to make the reasonable point that any US president aiming for a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have to persuade the Israelis to halt, and get rid of, Jewish settlements in the West Bank before handing it back. And it then says there are unpalatable things to be put to Palestinian representatives as well. One of these: 'the need to control militant groups'. Nicely formulated. Amongst Palestinian representatives there is a certain 'militant group' - Hamas. It should have no trouble controlling itself should it want to. But you wouldn't expect the Guardian to get too heavily explicit in that direction.