It is reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave — as a gift to President Obama — Mark Twain’s “Pleasure Excursion to the Holy Land.” Jonathan Tobin, at Commentary’s Contentions blog explains its significance:
Twain’s recollections of his post Civil War tour of the Mediterranean are an apt subject of reflection for Obama as he attempts to force Netanyahu to accept a Palestinian state. The Palestine Twain visited was a backwater of the Ottoman Empire whose inhabitants had no sense of a separate national identity. Though Palestinian nationalism is a reality that Israel must contend with today, it originated and gained traction solely as a reaction to the return of large numbers of Jews to the country. And this is the problem with making a peace deal with the Palestinians and the reason they have turned down every chance for peace so far. Since their national identity is wholly bound up with negating Zionism, the two-state solution everybody in Europe and Washington believes will bring peace doesn’t appeal that much to them.