The website of the Embassy of Israel to the United States is putting the best spin on President Obama’s visit and any tensions between the two countries, calling the U.S.-Israel relationship an “unbreakable alliance.” Perhaps hard to believe when disagreements between the two countries are deep, including over Israel’s expansions of settlements, where the borders would lie in a two-state solution, and of late – the best way for a war-weary U.S. to respond to Iran’s nuclear program.
But first, the diplomatic niceties. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to take President Obama on tours of technological products by Israel’s high-tech industries including in the fields of renewable energy, clamping down on traffic accidents, medicine, search and rescue, and robotics. Here’s an itinerary to keep you in the virtual loop.
Expectations about the presidential trip vary depending on whose doing the talking. President Obama’s planned visit to Palestinians living in Bethelehem in the West Bank is said to be greeted with little expectation and much skepticism. As one story noted, “Israel’s occupation of the West Bank has deepened, its settlements have expanded, and there is no sign on the horizon of a political solution that will bring Palestinians independence.” In other words, nothing will change despite a visit from the leader who ran on a platform of change. Speaking for the Israelis, is a strange video from the Israeli embassy featuring Obama and Netanyahu as cardboard cut outs moving to the musical theme from the Golden Girls television show. Now I’ll have “thank you for being a friend” playing in my head all day.
And despite Israel being the largest recipient of U.S. aid, they haven’t been shy about taking U.S. leaders to task when it suits them. Remember Netanyahu lecturing Obama on Jewish history? Breathtaking.
Foreign aid for Israel always raises the question of who else gets aid from the U.S. Here are the top 10 countries listed by level of aid:
Table 5. Top 10 Recipients of U.S. Foreign Aid in Fiscal Year 2012
Source: Congressional Budget Justification Summary Tables.
FY2012 (in millions of current U.S. $)
7. Kenya $652