Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to the US for a diplomatic meeting in March. Is he meeting with President Obama? Nope. He’s set to speak before Congress at Speaker John Boehner’s request, but Obama won’t meet with him so close to the Israeli elections. And the White House is quite upset over the whole thing:
“He spat in our face publicly, and that’s no way to behave,” one Obama aide told an Israeli newspaper. “Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price.”
It is pointless to say petty threats do not become the Oval Office. Trying to instruct this White House on manners recalls what Mark Twain said about trying to teach a pig to sing: It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
The White House is quick to say that this in no way affects the strength of the long-term US-Israeli alliance, but one has to wonder how strong or cooperative that relationship is when the countries can’t even agree on when and how their leaders should meet.
What is this all about? Netanyahu is a strong supporter of further sanctions on Iran to prevent them from going nuclear—a move that Obama has publicly shot down. It’s likely that Netanyahu will pitch the “further sanctions” idea to members of Congress in March. Is Netanyahu playing Congress against Obama to try to circumvent Obama in Iranian relations? Probably.
In all of this, the US comes out the loser. Our infighting is being used against us to accomplish the goals of other countries. Palestine, Iran, and Israel all have their own agendas. Who is fighting for our interests? It’s hard to say. Because it isn’t actually all that clear what our interests are. But I’m willing to bet a nickel or two that, whatever our interests, the ire over this visit has more to do with Obama’s personal feelings of rejection, and less to do with objective political ideals.