Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington recently and apparently had to endure poor treatment from the Obama administration. But it was President Obama himself who handed the prime minister the ultimate humiliation.
While meeting with Netanyahu, Obama apparently got up and told the Israeli prime minister that he was going to take a break to have dinner with his family. According to Israeli and American media, the president then said to Netanyahu: “Let me know if there is anything new.” Then he walked out.
This kind of official rudeness, directed at a head of state of this magnitude, is almost unprecedented.
This sort of insult would have been unimaginable even if it had it been directed at the ruler of some tiny landlocked African dictatorship. This, however, was the prime minister of Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and our most important ally in that region’s politics.
So what’s going on here?
The latest riff in U.S.-Israel relationships was initiated by an announcement of the next stage in building plans for 1,600 housing units in east Jerusalem.
This announcement came as Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the Jewish state, and it was claimed that the housing announcement “embarrassed” him.
But hold on; this is hard to imagine, since Joe routinely embarrasses himself.
The expansion of Jewish housing in Jerusalem has been a sticking point in Jewish-Palestinian negotiations; particularly since the Palestinian Authority wants east Jerusalem to be the capital of a new Palestinian state. Israelis say they’ll never share Jerusalem as a capitol.
But let’s revisit history for just a minute: Israel captured east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war and immediately annexed the area. The city was, in effect, the spoils of a war Israel didn’t start … but won.