Reading politics

 What can we make of the following?
    * Speaking in Indonesia, alongside the leader of that country, US President Barack Obama said that the planning of new housing in East Jerusalem was not helpful to the peace process. He went on to say that both sides must take the difficult decisions necessary to produce a breakthrough.
    * Israeli media has overlooked the "both sides" part of the President''s comments, and has focused on his criticism of Israel.
    * Does that mean that Israeli media is overwhelmingly leftist? That its commentators understand English better than me? Or that the subtext of the President''s comments is more important than the text? Whatever that means.
    * The British Foreign Secretary, being interviewed on Israeli television, was asked why Israel comes in for more criticism than other countries.
    * His response: The world expects more from Israel than from a Third World, non-democratic regime.
    * Does this mean that Israel must live up to a higher standard than the Palestinians it is expected to negotiate with, and give much more than it gets? If, indeed, it can bring the Palestinians to move down even a bit from their list of non-negotiable demands.
Or does all of the above mean that the verbiage of politics must, once again, be taken with a large grain of salt. It is not only that we expect politicians to fib when they are on the campaign trail looking for our votes. They are always on one campaign trail or another, and they are always likely to be saying something other that what they firmly believe.
President Obama''s comments in Jakarta sounded very much like his comments in Cairo. He was in the capital of a Muslim country, and he proclaimed his expectations about Israel. In both settings, he also proclaimed his expectations about Palestinians and other Muslim leaders. In Cairo, he was optimistic. In Jakarta, he said that if both sides do not show initiative, the peace process would fail.
It sounds to me like a man trying to keep up the good fight, but being careful not to invest too much in what may be a disappointment. Perhaps he is covering his backside, and preparing to blame Israeli or Palestinian leaders, or both, depending on what happens to be more convenient when it is time to apportion blame.
If this sounds confusing, you are reading it correctly. Deciphering the expressions of politicians is not for simpletons. And it may not be for anyone. It is like using esoteric keys to find hidden messages in the Bible. You can find what you want. Politicians naturally seek to broaden their appeal. If they are good at their job, they know how to justify whatever they have done, or have not done.
We should have known this all along.
It is helpful to remind ourselves every once in a while about eternal truths.
Getting back to the case at hand, what should Israelis do in the present confluence of demands, expectations, efforts to boycott, disinvest, impose sanctions, and the apparent lack of flexibility coming from our Palestinian neighbors?
It helps to recognize that things are even more complicated than this. Winds are blowing in several directions. The Christian Right and considerable other segments of American and European public opinion are with us, or against Muslims. Liberal Jews who are also Israelis or supporters of Israel are not always comfortable with such allies, but the movement is considerable. And despite the efforts of the politically correct, there seems to be some connection between Islam and unpleasant events in places where many people feel themselves threatened by Muslims.
What to do about a religion that has a billion followers, who are not all prone to violence, is a question that may bother as many people who worry about what to do about Israel.
Meanwhile, Israel ranks #15 among countries of the world on an index of Human Development. That suggests it is a better place to live than 154 other countries.
The Jews have had it worse.
For the prophetic among us (i.e., those who act as if they are hearing the word of God), that is never enough.