Is the Obama administration making nice with Israel?

Ron Kampeas

Netanyahu, Kerry, Netanyahu Kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is talking about his pleasant memories with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In this photo, the two meet in Jerusalem, June 28, 2013.(Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Flash90)

On Monday, President Barack Obama met with two sets of Jews, and from what we were told, essentially wondered aloud each time why his love for the Jewish people and for Israel is not more widely known.

The second group comprised donors and strategic advisers, and their answer, we’ve heard, was: You don’t write, you don’t call. In other words, make it known, and it shall be known. Get out there and show you love Israel.

So today, the Israeli Embassy announced that Vice President Joe Biden will be featured as its honored guest at Independence Day festivities next week.

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This is significant for two reasons: The Independence Day gigs rarely garner presidential or vice-presidential appearances. Usually, the designated guest is a Jewish Cabinet-level official. The last vice presidential appearance I can recall is Dick Cheney, in 2008 (when candidate Obama also appeared).

Second, it is an embassy party: Principal honors are conferred on the host, in this case Ambassador Ron Dermer.

If Dermer was ever an unofficial persona non grata for keeping secret from the White House Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to address Congress, those days are over. The second-highest official in the land is giving Dermer his blessing.

Also today John Kerry, the secretary of state, sent out a Yom HaShoah message. Mentioning Israel in these messages is not unusual; what is unusual is name-checking Netanyahu.

From Kerry’s message:

I was profoundly moved in 2013 when I visited Yad Vashem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-President Shimon Peres. A siren wailing through Jerusalem and then a nation standing together in silent reflection signify a profound tribute to the fallen, and a call to consciousness for us all, now and in perpetuity.

Add this up, and you get an eagerness by top administration officials to create or recall photo-ops with Netanyahu and Dermer, both, until recently, bêtes noires for this administration.

Ron Kampeas is JTA’s Washington bureau chief. Follow him on Twitter at @kampeas