Anyone who has spent time in Chicago knows the saying, which means that there is always pay back time. Alan Berger, the astute Boston Globe emeritus editorial page guru, argues in a commentary that Obama should spend some time in Israel prior to this month's election. Bibi Netanyahu, betting ill-advisedly on a Romney victory, mucked around in U.S. electoral politics. Now is the time, Berger argues, for returning the favor and in the process changing the formula for a new political coalition in Israel. Berger realistically assumes that Netanyahu, who is not facing an opponent likely to garner anywhere close to comparable votes, would be faced with a somewhat different cast of potential coalition partners if Obama were to intervene thought a pre-election visit to Israel during which the U.S. President would talk up the two-state solution. My guess is the Obama intervention would be too late to have much political impact, but it would be satisfying to watch the self-serving Netanyahu squirm.
Obama would not have to say anything very original. He could offer an American endorsement for the sage counsel of Israel’s President Shimon Peres, who told a conclave of Israeli ambassadors the other day that “there is no alternative’’ to a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a genuine peace partner. Obama would be acting in accord with US and Israeli interests if he told Israeli voters to heed the Peres criticism of Israeli rightists who act as if they could overcome reality by denying it. “If someone rejects the idea of a two-state solution, he should say what he has in its place,’’ Peres told the Israeli diplomats. “Even if you do not have another option . . . reality will bring the alternative. I tell you categorically that the idea of a bi-national state endangers the Jewish, Zionist, and democratic nature of Israel.’’