By Schmoel Yitzhak
It took Christopher Columbus a while to discover America and it has required one full presidential term -- and then some -- for Barack Obama to set foot in Israel.
No sweat. As they say on Pennsylvania Avenue -- when they're not appeasing the Iranians -- better late than never although for a while it appeared to be never.
Uncle Sam's Chief Executive should be accorded a dignified reception since Obama implicitly believes that Israel cannot survive without him and why not go along with that charade; at least for a while.
One might reasonably wonder why it took so long for the Democrat to get to Jerusalem since he was able to find Cairo in record time after his first election.
I guess Egypt was a more urgent priority since the president had to: 1. Politically stab Hosni Mubarak in the back; 2. Enable the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood take over and, 3. Allow the Jew-hating President Morsi render Egypt into a divided nation almost as skewered with hatred as Syria.
Even though Obama's actions make it clear that Israel was low country on his totem pole, this visit indubitably will set a tone for relations between Washington and Jerusalem. And nobody knows this better than Benjamin Netanyahu.
On the one hand Bibi knows full well what Obama is all about and that is making nice with the Arabs at the perennial expense of Israel. So, what if the president has patently, and politically screwed up right across the African continent, from Algeria to Libya -- wouldn't Quaddafi been better than the jerks now in power? -- to Egypt right up to Tehran.
Bibi is stuck with this guy and must make the best of it. The Prime Minister must grin and bear it ,if you will, when it comes to discussing the issues on their agendas. To wit:
* IRAN: It's already apparent that the White House does not want Israel to take any unilateral action against the Mullahs' nuclear development, leading to a bomb which they hope to use against Israel. Figure Obama to come down heavy-handed on this while making Bibi offers that Netanyahu must refuse.
* SYRIA: Nobody can predict what the madman Assad will do next in Damascus but Bibi will point out that Syria is just around Israel's corner and -- whether the Americans like it or not -- there are some serious chemical weapons that cannot fall into the hands of terrorists. Obama seems to know this and should be at least somewhat cooperative.
* PEACE WITH PALESTINIANS: Guaranteed, the president will try to shove this down Netanyahu's throat and here's where the tug-of-war will grow intense. Obama will demand that Bibi make egregiously unreasonable concessions in return for some kind of nebulous American help against Iran.
Because of pressure from Israel's left and left-center, Bibi might very well capitulate in areas which his gut tells him he should avoid. The recent elections have forced him into a position where he may have to make some concessions. But here's where he must not only stand his ground but remain steadfast under extreme pressure.
This is where Avigdor Lieberman comes into play. Although the former Foreign Minister has had some recent legal problems, when it comes to international politics and, more important, Israel's safety, he's right on the ball.
We share Lieberman's view that a genuine, long-term peace deal with the Palestinians is an impossibility now and certainly in the immediate future.
Who can tell from day to day or month to month whether Abbas and his Fatah fakers are going to seal a deal with their long time foes in Hamas? And since Hamas is irrefutably dedicated to the eradication of Israel, why would Bibi even entertain peace talks at this point in time.
Lieberman candidly and accurately declares that a permanent peace with the Arabs is an impossibility considering the unstable political climate in the Middle East. Listen up to some good sense:
"Anyone who thinks that in the center of this socio-diplomatic ocean this tsunami which is jarring the Arab world, it is possible to arrive at the magic solution of a comprehensive peace with the Palestinians does not understand,"
By this time Obama should have his head out of the sand. He must understand that the Palestinians -- after all these decades -- still refuse to recognize Israel for what it is, The Jewish State. This is not a matter for bargaining. If Abbas wants a deal done, he must acknowledge the aforementioned fact and then Bibi will willingly proceed from there with unconditional negotiations, as he has asserted a bazillion times.
But Fatah's idea of negotiations -- when it's not engaged in failed talks with Hamas -- amounts to an endless list of un-meetable pre-conditions.
No such realistic accord can be achieved between Bibi and Abbas barring vicious arm-twisting by Obama.
As I've said even before he was elected, the American president cannot be trusted vis-a-vis Israel. It was evident four years ago and it is clear today based on his most recent cabinet appointments with a history of anti-Israel prejudice.
Our suggestion is that before any Netanyahu-Obama talks begin, Bibi should take the president by hand to Yad Vashem and give the chief executive a day-long tour which would explain why "Never Again" is etched in the Israeli psyche. A side trip to Sderot -- with air raid sirens blaring -- might make an impression as well.
Trouble is, that the impression will be erased the moment Obama muses about Arab oil, his leftist advisors and the European Union propaganda machine.
The bottom line is that Israel's Prime Minister must think of his country's security first and foremost and if the man from Pennsylvania Avenue doesn't get the message show Obama a photo of Arab hero Haj Amin al-Husseini plotting the Holocaust in Adolf Hitler's office.
Perhaps, after that, some sense will penetrate Obama's skull; but don't bet on it!