Now, the speculation is that Obama doesn't want to be seen with Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu at the upcoming AIPAC conference in Washington. On Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported:
Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday canceled his plans to attend the upcoming AIPAC summit, after it became clear that US President Barack Obama would not meet him during the conference.
Netanyahu announced that while he will not attend the conference in person, he will send a video-taped message to Washington.
A watershed disgrace if true. Certainly, this notion has been cycling around Israel circles for a while. Last week, the Jerusalem Post reported:
There has been speculation in parts of the Israeli press that Obama himself wanted Netanyahu to hold off on his visit to avoid photo ops with the Israeli leader, but US observers dismissed this idea out of hand.
"Obama is looking forward to Bibi coming in early May," said former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk of the reports, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.
He stressed that it was "totally inaccurate" to say that the new prime minister was unwelcome in Washington, and chalked the assertion up to Israeli "spin."
There have also been suggestions in the Israeli media that Obama is sending a message by hosting Jordan's King Abdullah next week before Netanyahu.
Scott Lasensky, a Middle East expert with the US Institute of Peace, said the Abdullah visit was simply part of the long-established tradition whereby a new US president packs his first few months in office with meetings with key heads of state.
"Anyone who thinks there is a message in the sequencing is either paranoid or unfamiliar with Washington," he said, pointing out that these visits were usually "weeks if not months" in the making and that Israel had only recently formed its new government.
Yes and no. Consider already established patterns here: For example, who was the very first foreign leader Obama telephoned from the Oval Office? Palestinian Authority Pres Mahmoud Abbas. How's that for "sequencing"? Meanwhile, given the rapid rate at which Obama is turning his fervent sans-preconditions desires to engage in acts of political promiscuity with an assortment of twisted villains on the world stage, there exists a compelling diplomatic reason not to appear to be playing black-hatted favorites. Unless, of course, Obama wants to play black-hatted favorites.
The pictures don't lie.