Saturday, May 21, 2011

Obama, Netanyahu and the 1967 borders

President Obama has made his long awaited speech and uttered the magic number which some hoped and other dreaded that he would mention – Nineteeen Hundred Sixty Seven. And Prime Minister Netanyahu retorted with an angry outburst and total denunciation and rejection of the 1967 borders. Israel's newspapers all came out with banner headlines proclaiming "Confrontation!" and "Collision Course!". In the evening, Obama and Netahayhu met at the White House and made a rather pale effort to paper over the cracks and present the TV cameras with a friendly, smiling, hand-shaking façade – what today's Wall Street Journal called "The most undiplomatic moments of international diplomacy ever offered for cameras".

From the shallow perspective of 48 hours after the speech, how are we to gauge it? A historical breakthrough? A tawdry, soon forgotten media gimmick? Or something in between?