Recently my good friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama. Looking at the photographs from the photo op, one would think it was a wonderful meeting, but pictures can be deceiving.
The purpose of the meeting was for the prime minister to attempt to persuade the president to renew a ten-year military assistance package. This would allow Israel to purchase F-16s and other military equipment from the U.S. Having known Mr. Netanyahu for almost forty years, even before his career in politics, I can say with certainty that it was not a productive meeting.
One only has to understand the chemistry between them and the worldview of these two leaders. The prime minister’s greatest American hero was Ronald Reagan, a very conservative Republican. Netanyahu’s Likud Party is likewise a very conservative political party in Israel. That is the complete opposite of President Obama’s party and his philosophy.
To say that Mr. Obama dislikes Mr. Netanyahu is an understatement. In the past the president has criticized the Likud Party even when running for the presidency. When Netanyahu was elected to the post of prime minister, Mr. Obama waited days before telephoning with his congratulations. When Mr. Netanyahu traveled to Washington in March of this year, he found the White House doors firmly closed to him and a president too busy to meet with him. The meeting between the two men previous to that inhospitable reception was extremely uncomfortable.
Nothing of substance transpired during the most recent encounter. Mr. Obama did not approve Israel’s request, but simply said that negotiations would be forthcoming.
The two leaders first met in 2007 in a janitor’s office at The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington. They met again in 2008 when the president visited Jerusalem. There had been a terrorist attack and Mr. Netanyahu asked Mr. Obama to accompany him on a visit to the site; the president declined.
President Obama has done all possible to support Iran with sanction relief, even in light of Israeli unwillingness to trust the mullah-run government in Tehran. Iran has funded terrorism in Gaza through Hamas, Lebanon through Hezbollah, and in Syria through its Revolutionary Guard and has even threatened to wipe Israel off the map with a nuclear bomb. Prime Minister Netanyahu did not support the Obama plan and did everything conceivable to convince the president not to acquiesce to pressure to sign an agreement with Iran’s leaders.
President Obama is adamantly opposed to the settlers in Israel building homes, even in Jerusalem. He fully supports a Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital. There is no question that Mr. Obama was not happy to hear that Mr. Netanyahu had been reelected to office.
The position now in the Obama administration is simply, “I told you so.” It is gloating over the victory of sanction relief for Iran while explaining to Mr. Netanyahu that he has brought this latest wave of terror in his country upon himself because of his intractable position on Palestinian statehood.
The meeting between the two men this month was done more for political expediency and for show in an election year than for substance. The president wanted to proffer the impression that the Democratic president and his party are friends of Israel. There is no question that Israel now faces the most dangerous days in its history, thanks in part to the unfavorable position America, its greatest ally, has adopted.