The White House has played down expectations about the meeting between US President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, which is “scheduled” for the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York today.

“We have no grand expectations out of one meeting,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs Monday, saying only that it would be an important way to continue “the hard work, day-to-day diplomacy that has to be done to seek a lasting peace.”

Meanwhile, Israeli sources say the meeting will just be a photo opportunity.

“The meeting will not inaugurate [renewed] negotiations and will not involve any significant details,” the sources said. “The differences on the issue of the settlements and the framework of the talks remain deep.”

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)

10:48PM: Here is something I didn’t notice when I originally posted about the Toronto Film festival protest and counter protest.

Left, right or center, there’s two things nearly everybody in Hollywood agrees on: There’s no disease that can’t be cured by raising enough money and the state of Israel deserves unabashed support.

These days, sympathy for Israel puts the American entertainment industry at odds with much of the European film and academic communities. In those circles, vehement criticism of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians and boycotts of Israeli scholars and artists have become almost fashionable. (In cinematic London, Hamas militants are the new baby seals.) Hollywood has mostly shrugged all this off, until this week, when it decided that an outbreak of anti-Israeli agitation in Toronto was bringing things a little too close to home.

Canadian documentary filmmaker John Greyson pulled his latest movie from this week’s Toronto International Film Festival because he said the event’s sister-city relationship with Tel Aviv was an implicit endorsement of “the smiling face of Israeli apartheid.”

A variety of entertainers — including David Byrne, Julie Christie, Ken Loach, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortensen and Wallace Shawn — published a letter alleging that Toronto had become an agent of the “Israeli propaganda machine.”

Some people in Hollywood took these initiatives not as a disagreement with Israeli government policies but as an attempt to isolate and ostracize the Jewish state’s vibrant, diverse and independent film community. (If there really is a dirty word in Hollywood, it’s “blacklist.”)

So former CAA agent Dan Adler, acting under the sponsorship of Los Angeles’ Jewish Federation and United Jewish Appeal of Toronto, put together a counter ad that denounced the boycott demands in Thursday’s trades.

“We all spent a lot of time talking about the original protest letter, in the sense that it seemed to be going after the wrong target by attacking Israel and its film artists,” Adler told The Times’ Patrick Goldstein on Wednesday night. “When I sat down at my computer and started asking for people to sign on, all I got was passion and enthusiasm. Everyone said, ‘I’m in,’ and then, even better, added, ‘Can I get you someone else?’ ”

The signatories do read like a who’s who of Hollywood’s elite with a cast that runs from the executive suites to the sound stages and cuts across generations. Among those who signed on are Jerry Seinfeld, Seth Rogen, Robert Duvall, Halle Berry, Sacha Baron Cohen, Lisa Kudrow, Lenny Kravitz, Ed Zwick, Jason Alexander, Chazz Palminteri and David Cronenberg, as well as A-list producers and executives Ron Meyer, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sherry Lansing, Neal Moritz, Jonathan Glickman, Nina Jacobson, Darren Star, Nathan Kahane and Gail Berman.

(There’s even a precedent-setting credit for writer-director Michael Tolkin, who “polished” the ad’s text. Now, there’s something the Writers Guild would like to see catch on.)

In a phone interview, former Paramount head Lansing said she and her husband, director William Friedkin, were upset that the Israeli filmmakers had been singled out for retribution, especially as the community starts the Jewish new year and High Holy Days.

“These are independent filmmakers who are not working as the propaganda machine of the state of Israel,” Lansing said. “It’s dangerous to — in any way — turn the film festival into a political event. We do not want to return to the days of blacklisting.”

Media mogul Haim Saban was blunt in his assessment. “The world always had anti-Semites,” he said in an e-mail exchange. “It has now and always will, but the people of Israel always have, and always will live and prosper. Sorry Jew haters. You lose.”

Halle Berry? Wow, talk about repentance.

8:25PM: Picture of the day, Happy Campers edition

obama abbas netanyahu - AP

Obama: Now shake hands, even if it kills you!

8:18PM: Regarding the Israeli Arab who tried to run a checkpoint and then run over a soldier, his family is predictably blaming the targets of their son’s actions.

Tawil’s family members admonished what they called the IDF’s “trigger-happy” conduct on the part of Israeli security forces when Arabs are involved.

The real problem was Tawil’s “accelerator-happy” conduct.

Meanwhile, Reuters has released a number of pictures of Tawil’s grieving family. Needless to say, there are no pictures of the injured soldier.

7:50PM: I always enjoy listening to former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman. Here he is talking about a possible strike on Iran.

7:28PM: According to the Washington Times, a number of North African and Persian Gulf states have promised to give Israeli airliners flyover rights in their airspace, as well as other concessions, if Israel freezes “settlement” construction.

And while the Jerusalem Post report mentions commercial airliners and is accompanied by a picture of an El Al plane, I’m guessing this is related to a possible Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Which means the Arab states are offering to allow us to protect them if we stop building Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.

5:28PM: Interesting Newsweek profile of Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat.

4:50PM: Here is Goldstone’s wholly unsatisfying response to an email in which he was asked why he did not invite Colonel Richard Kemp to give evidence.

From: “rjgoldstone…
To: “maurice@…” <maurice@…>
Date: Mon, 21 Sep 2009 22:34:49 +0200
Subject: RE: Shana Tova

..I have been under huge pressure with regard not only to the reportbut my teaching and other commitments. I am not in a position to respond in detail to the many e-mails I have been receiving. I would say, however that I will make inquries and support all the submissions to the Fact Finding Mission being accessible on the web. I would also mention that there was no reliance on Col. Kemp mainly because in our Report we did not deal with the issues he raised regarding the problems of conducting military operations in civilian areas and second-guessing decisions made by soldiers and their commanding officers “in the fog of war”. We avoided having to do so in the incidents we decided to investigate.
Warm regards,
Richard Goldstone

4:35PM: Honest Reporting takes on Liam Bartlett’s biased 60 Minutes story, as I did yesterday.

4:28PM: Here is Richard Goldstone at his obstinate best during an interview with Channel 2’s Yonit Levy (who, I had never realized before, has great English).

What was interesting to me was how even Levy seemed to be gunning for Goldstone, given she was accused of emphathizing with the enemy during Operation Cast Lead. In any event, she missed a good opportunity to ask the real questions of Goldstone, and not just the standard ones to which he already had boilerplate answers. For instance, I would love to have seen her take a few specific examples from the report and then bring the video and photographic evidence rebutting them – such as the report’s statement that “The Mission found no evidence that members of Palestinian armed groups engaged in combat in civilian dress” (493).

1:18PM: Fossil fool Jimmy Carter has used his winning of an award to attack Israel for “settlement” building.

“As [US] President Barack Obama has made clear, the key factor that prevents peace is the continuing building of Israeli settlements in Palestine, driven by a determined minority of Israelis who desire to occupy and colonize east Jerusalem and the West Bank,” Carter said.

Carter, a Nobel Peace laureate, spoke to a crowd of 6,500 as he and former first lady Rosalynn Carter received an award from James Madison University’s Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence.

Carter said he is convinced that withdrawal of Israeli forces from Arab territories will dramatically reduce any threats to Israel.

“All 22 Arab countries have offered diplomatic recognition and full trade and commerce if Israel will withdraw from occupied territories,” he said.

And withdrawal is necessary, Carter said.

“The alternative to two states is one nation in the same area, within which Arabs will soon comprise a clear majority,” he said. “This will mean the end of a Jewish state or else an apartheid system within which Palestinians are dominated and deprived of equal rights.”

Observations:

  • How ironic that Carter should receive an award from James Madison University’s Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence, while he is in bed with the likes of Hamas and does not even mention terrorism as the key factor that prevents peace (instead focusing on “settlements”)
  • If Carter is so convinced that our withdrawal of Israeli forces from territories we captured in the Six Day War “will dramatically reduce any threats to Israel” since “All 22 Arab countries have offered diplomatic recognition and full trade and commerce if Israel will withdraw from occupied territories,” how does he explain all the times before we captured this territory that the Arab states tried to destroy us? How does he explain Iran’s insistence that they will wipe us off the map? What about the Hamas charter?
  • Withdrawal was necessary…a few seconds before Carter was conceived.

12:10PM: An Israeli Arab has been killed after refusing to stop his vehicle for inspection at a checkpoint, and then hitting a soldier with his vehicle.

An initial investigation into the incident revealed that the man, who arrived at the checkpoint at around 6 am, did not stop his vehicle when he was ordered by the soldiers to do so. The Arab-Israeli continued through the checkpoint, and an IDF jeep chased him to a nearby gas station. A soldier then stepped out of the jeep and was hit by the vehicle while attempting to approach the driver. Another soldier fired warning shots in the air and then opened fire at the driver.

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