Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama at the White House, March 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
One of Israel's finest music hits of recent years was Alma Zohar's Indian Love Song, in which an Israeli woman gets a call from her faraway lover. "Mi amore, it's Miguel, I'm calling you in Israel just to say that I love you", Zohar sings (part Hebrew, part English – listen here). Yesterday, I was reminded of this song as I first heard about the Obama-Netanyahu phone conversation. Following a week of rhetorical friendly fire – Netanyahu demanding "red lines" on Iran, the US publicly rejecting such demand – the two leaders needed this call just to say that they love… well, that there's "no rift".
However, as I wrote (before the call was made) for this publication's print edition, the past week was not an easy one in US-Israel relations. Netanyahu seems to have climbed high up the tree and the administration seems reluctant to hand him a ladder – in fact, it seems to want to publicly humiliate him. Here's one paragraph from my article – which you are welcome to read it in full here:
When Clinton declares diplomacy to be the best option, Israeli officials hear the sound of perpetual delay that will lead to a bitter end. What Israeli decision makers are faced with, as the Obama administration so blatantly says no to military action, is an even starker choice: to trust an administration in which it has no trust, or to wait for an administration in which it might have some more trust (namely, for Mitt Romney to win the 2012 election), or to act promptly to defy the expectations that the Obama administration so manifestly aligned itself with.
Netanyahu was somewhat misleading when he angrily demanded of “those in the international community who refuse to put red lines in front of Iran” to understand that such position takes away their “moral right to put a red light in front of Israel.” Because what the Obama team was doing in the past week was not putting a red light in front of Israel — it was holding a red handkerchief in its face, to dare the bull to take action or be silenced. And one should just hope that war with Iran doesn’t start over issues of hurt egos. And one should just hope that the pressure on Iran will not be reduced over egos.
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