Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
An earlier meeting of Obama and Netanyahu
Shocked by what some news reports are calling President Obama’s “ambush” and “humiliation” of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington, D.C., a group of Americans are doing an end around the increasingly hostile White House and reaching out directly to the Israeli leader.
Earlier this week, Obama walked out of a meeting with Netanyahu at the White House, inviting the Israeli leader to remain alone and reconsider his negotiation stance … or get out.
“I’m still around,” the daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot quoted Obama as saying, before walking out on the stunned Netanyahu. “Let me know if there is anything new.”
“While President Obama hugs dictators and smiles for photo-ops with enemies of freedom around the world, I was appalled at how he treated Prime Minister Netanyahu – our best friend in the Middle East,” said Porter in a statement.
Consequently, Porter’s organization has acted to assure the Israeli government that any perceived animosity from the Obama White House does not represent the feelings of all Americans.
Through a cooperative effort with a florist in Jerusalem, Faith2Action has launched the Israel Friendship Project, which invites Americans to send dozens of yellow roses – a symbol of friendship – directly to Netanyahu as a measure of support and encouragement.
Included in each dozen roses – which are priced at the symbolic cost of $19.48, after the year 1948, in which Israel was reestablished as a nation – is a card that reads, “Dear Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Be encouraged, Americans stand with you. God bless you.”
The card concludes with the biblical verse, “The Lord builds up Jerusalem,” from Psalm 147:2.
Relations between the U.S. and Israel have been increasingly strained lately, following the Middle East country’s announcement of additional construction in east Jerusalem, a step Obama’s administration opposes as potentially inflammatory in discussions with the Palestinians.
And though Netanyahu denies any hand in the timing, the announcement’s release during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel outraged the Obama administration, which saw the timing as undermining and – in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s words – “insulting” to Biden.
Obama has been demanding Netanyahu freeze any further construction and settlement in east Jerusalem.
In a speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference on Monday, however, Netanyahu rebuffed the president’s push.
“Jerusalem is not a settlement. It’s our capital,” Netanyahu said.
The next day, Netanyahu and a delegation of Israelis met with Obama at the White House, only to watch the president walk out of the meeting.
Netanyahu and his delegation, the Times of London reports, grew so suspicious of Obama’s intentions after the meeting “soured,” that rather than remain and reconsider, as the president suggested, they retreated to the Israeli Embassy “to ensure that the Americans were not listening in” on their discussions.
“What was the reason behind the horrendous treatment of the Prime Minister? Was he funding terrorists? Did he announce plans for the destruction of America?” Porter asks in a statement announcing the Israel Friendship Project. “No, the ‘crime’ of Israel is they wanted to build homes in the capital of their own nation in which their citizens could live.
“We’ve seen ‘Jewish-free zones’ in Germany and in Muslim countries,” Porter quipped, “but is Obama really making that outrageous demand in Jerusalem – Israel’s own capital?”
True to her organization’s name, however, Porter moved to do more than be outraged. Instead, she initiated the effort to send support directly to Netanyahu … in the form of roses.
Faith2Action told WND the response has been overwhelming, as Americans have been calling in, placing orders for flowers almost every five minutes. By noon today, over 200 dozen had been ordered.
“Our phone lines were jammed with just one mention of the Israel Friendship Project,” said Porter. “People are so anxious to show love and support to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we had these 200 dozen roses ordered before we could even post a web link. I hope the Prime Minister has a lot of vases, because 2,400 roses are the result of just the first day.”