Bibi Speaks to Obama
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
In his meeting with the President today, Bibi would be well advised to avoid trying to be too cute with Obama. His tasteless reference to Derek Jeter during his speech to the General Assembly did demonstrate to New Yorkers and Americans how au courrant he was with baseball. Considering that he was addressing an assemblage of heads of state and diplomats most of whom he was trying to convince about the importance of the global threat still posed by Iran, Bibi’s remark was childish at best. When Bibi meets in the Oval Office, he needs to be strong and firm, but also polite and appreciative; definitely not clever.
On the one hand, the U.S. has benefitted greatly from the battlefield testing that the Iron Dome system underwent during the Gaza War. The IDF demonstrated the capability and functionality of Iron Dome under real war conditions. The jointly created and developed system operated apparently masterfully. In addition, the Pentagon has much to take away from the tactics employed by the IDF in Gaza itself, which might be a model for U.S. forces if and when they will need to be deployed in the towns and villages in Syria. No doubt Israel also has been sharing extensive intelligence information with the U.S. about radical terrorists and ISIS activities, which quietly have been integrated into U.S. intelligent estimates.
On the other hand, Israel received full supplies and weapons’ replenishments—some alleged hold-ups notwithstanding—as the war dragged on. Israel’s reliance on America’s military aid of planes and other heavy military equipment of over $3 billion annually has enabled the IDF to maintain its dramatically superior edge in the region. The continuing support from both the White House and the Members of Congress require the Prime Minister to make the first move to dissolve much of the personal animosity which had existed throughout the Obama years. While Israel might have taken umbrage at some of the statements and messages that emanated from Washington this summer, much of it was rhetoric uttered under political and geopolitical pressure which had no significant consequences for the underlying relationship.
These two leaders may not like each other personally, but it would be not hurt for Bibi to make the first move to improve it. This is especially so if in fact Bibi is correct that there will be tense debates with Washington over the Iran nuclear talks in the weeks ahead.