Little children, U.S. and Israeli flags and the leaders of the two countries forging a renewed bond – this was the common theme of many of the front pages of American newspapers on Wednesday. It is the kind of PR that millions of dollars of hasbarah budgets can’t buy.
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“A United Front” the Hartford Courant heralded. “Unusual Solidarity for Obama, Netanyahu” wrote the Washington Post. “Message of Solidarity” the Miami Herald announced. “Obama Vows Support for Israel”, says the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “Warning Syria, Obama Stands Besides Israelis”, the New York Times reported. “Mideast Thaw”, was the way the Philadelphia Inquirer put it. “Israel, U.S. show solidarity,” was the story in the Dallas Morning News.
No less significantly, perhaps, the photographs accompanying the stories were all colorful and festive, showing Israeli children waving flags or Israeli and American flags waving side by side. A few pictures showed Israeli President Shimon Peres and U.S. President Barack Obama, but the overwhelming majority focused on Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, walking, jacketless on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport, looking resolute one next to the other, or caught in small gestures of the renewed intimacy that the two have agreed to project.
Not all major newspapers, however, thought that the presidential visit was important enough to take space away from domestic stories. Among them were the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle and USA Today.
The television coverage, which started lethargically, is increasing as the visit progresses. Among the three news networks, MSNBC appears to be devoting the most time and effort to covering the visit: the left-wing news station is positive towards Obama’s efforts, while its ideological rival, Fox is more ambivalent - happy to see its darling Israel courted, but wary of praising the suitor himself.