Bibi in New York
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
As Netanyahu prepares to address the U.N. General Assembly today, one wishes he would pay closer attention to a number of events that have occurred only within the past few days in the United States. Much is being made—especially in the Israeli media– out of a one sentence comment about the Middle East by Obama in his U.N. speech. Instead of viewing it as innocuous and moving on, Israelis are shuddering about an anticipated—but not at all confirmed– post-November 8 speech by Obama which will criticize Israel more directly; especially concerning the Netanyahu Government’s failure to impose a total freeze on settlement construction.
The problem with Israel’s concern is that if it not prepared to act, at least stop stoking furnaces. If the Netanyahu Government is not prepared to make a demonstrative move then it needs to be prepared to its licks. In addition, there has been no public confirmation about any post-Election Day major Obama foreign policy address. Finally, it remains unclear why Netanyahu could not have ordered a freeze prior to his travelling to New York, thus perhaps removing some of the obvious strain between the leaders which Israel reports persisted in their meeting in New York.
It is also unclear why Netanyahu could have not swallowed hard and let the recent signing of the $38 billion, ten year military Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Israel and the United States be seen for what it truly is; the most generous extension of U.S. military aid ever to Israel. Obama could have been given some acknowledgement by Bibi for the MOU as a sincere acknowledgement by the President of the unique relationship that the U.S. has with Israel.
Meanwhile, in a totally different realm, Bibi’s most adoring mentor and financier, Sheldon Adelson, has stated very clearer by his dramatically reduced support for the Republican nominee, that he does not favor a Trump election in November. Regardless of what the Prime Minister, Israel’s Ambassador in Washington Ron Dermer, or Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Danny Danon may prefer, Bibi needs to swallow hard and not signal any special embrace of Trump, should that opportunity present itself. He may view Republicans as being more supportive or less critical of Israeli policies, but this ought not to extend to support for Trump. Given the distinct possibility that there will be a Democrat again in the White House in January and maybe even a Democratic Senate, it would behoove Netanyahu to remain a total spectator as the 2016 U.S. election plays out.