It seems that U.S.-Israel relations are running along like a very old joke which said something like: “Just when you thought things could not possibly get worse, sure enough things got worse.” The problem is that U.S.-Israel relations are not a joke.
The White House and Netanyahu are quibbling about American values and the President is being challenged for not knowing what American stands for. This challenge is not coming from the Republican side of the aisle but from the Prime Minister of Israel. Netanyahu, although he spent a considerable amount of time in the U.S. when he was younger and later as Ambassador here, is hardly the person to be lecturing Obama on what are American values because the Obama Administration opposes any settlement activity, even in Jerusalem.
Netanyahu’s major substantive geopolitical debate with the Administration apparently continues to be how to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. While Bibi believes American opposition to Israel’s settlement policy is contrary to American values, saying so will not help him gain a sympathetic hearing in Washington for his own analysis of how to deal with Iran. In fact, this attack type of action may well create hostility towards Israel even within and among his supporters in Congress—regardless of their party affiliation–who will take umbrage in his attack on American values.
Furthermore, while the U.S. is engaged in addressing the Iranian nuclear threat, the President’s plate is overflowing now—even with Congress out of town campaigning—that it might have been appropriate for the Prime Minister to pause and take note of the Presidents own agenda, in addition to the Israeli-Palestinian tension. The President is actively trying to secure the international coalition of partners who are engaged in fighting the Islamic State. He is trying to assess the extent of the Hong Kong demonstrations and what effect they will have in China; what the impact might be of elevated Chinese repression against the demonstrators. Finally, he is racing to establish a comprehensive national approach to effectively controlling a potential spread of the EBOLA virus within the U.S.
Dealing with a pointless confrontation with Israel is the last thing the White House wants. One continues to be amazed at Bibi’s inability to get this.