Sometimes it takes three to tango
Obama’s greatest ally in Israel is Shimon Peres. He is the one who defended Obama even during the difficult times, when Israelis referred to him as Hussein.
Netanyahu, Obama and Peres at Ben Gurion Airport, March 20, 2013. Photo: Avi Ohayon/GPO
Barack Obama is a quick study. Data go in, and conclusions are spit out. The
fact that he was elected for a second term proves this. He has learned from all
of his mistakes – and there were many – during his first term. He completely
missed the mark when it came to Israel.
Obama wants to make up for this
and accomplish everything during his second administration, to fix all the
problems and achieve all of his goals. And to do this, he needs Israel. He needs
the cooperation of AIPAC and the rest of the pro-Israel lobby. What Obama needs
to do now is repair his relationship with Binyamin Netanyahu and only afterwards
pull out his list of demands.
The Israelis were not overexcited by the
fact that Obama has been the most friendly and helpful US president for Israel
ever in terms of security. But we did notice that he never came to Israel, and
went to Cairo instead.
We noticed that he succumbed to the dictates of
the Arab world, but gave us a cold shoulder. And because there was no warmth,
his pushing did not help either.
But now the Americans get
Obama doesn’t have the warmth that Bill Clinton did. He’s a real cold
fish. No, he can’t stand Netanyahu, but if he decides that he needs Netanyahu to
achieve his goals, then he can be his friend. Or at least pretend to
Obama knows that Netanyahu is slick and stealthy. The master of
illusion and appearances, who can tell you exactly what you want to hear and
then later disappear.
And so Obama is trying to adjust to this new,
Obama learned the most interesting details from his
mentor, Shimon Peres, during their closed session. Even Peres, who shares many
personality characteristics with Obama (namely optimism), understood that if you
want to squeeze juice out the lemon called Bibi, you first need to learn the lay
of the land and to adapt yourself to it. And what has Peres gained from all
this? Nothing. As usual, in the end Bibi somehow wiggled his way out and
Obama came to Israel to charm us. He came to conquer the
hearts of the Israeli public. As things look now, it appears that he has
achieved his goal. Obama is one of the greatest political orators of the modern
age. If he can win over the Americans, he can surely conquer Israel,
He didn’t ask to be shown the Iron Dome missile defense system for
nothing (a not so subtle reminder that the development of this technology, as
well as that of the Arrow missiles, were possible due to generous US
In the arm wrestle between Obama and Netanyahu on the Iran
issue, Obama was clearly the victor (as opposed to the Palestinian issue, on
which Netanyahu beat Obama).
The fact that Bibi did not bomb Iran ahead
of the US election was considered a huge victory for the Americans. Apparently
they don’t know Bibi well enough to know that he is not the bombing
He’s the speech-giving type.
But the Iran threat has not
gone away. Netanyahu continues to make threats about bombing Iran. In his press
conference with Obama in Jerusalem, he mentioned Israel’s right to protect
itself three times.
Obama should have made it clear that this option does
not exist. That if Israel attacks unilaterally, Israel will be on its own, and
the US would not be there to clean up the mess.
Obama’s greatest ally in
Israel is Shimon Peres. He is the one who defended Obama even during the
difficult times, when Israelis referred to him as Hussein. He is the one who
believes in the American president with all his heart when he proclaims that
Iran will never achieve nuclear capability.
Peres is Obama’s adviser on a
variety of issues: the Jewish People, the State of Israel, the Middle East and
the “situation.” The Americans requested that the meeting with Peres be private,
which can be translated as the Americans not wanting it to be publicized, since
what Obama wanted to discuss was strictly confidential.
something like 17 intelligence organizations gathering information for him,
whose budgets total more than that of the State of Israel, and yet he still
needs Peres to explain to him what’s going on here, who’s against whom and
When Obama landed at Ben- Gurion Airport, he was supposed to shake
Peres’s hand first (according to protocol, the US president is supposed to first
shake hands with his Israeli counterpart, i.e. Peres), Netanyahu burst forward
so that he could be the first to shake hands with Obama. This incident brought
many smiles to faces on both sides.
In normal times, Peres would have
been insulted. Twenty or 30 years ago he would have been broiling from such a
scene. But this time, Peres accepted the situation calmly. Peres wants the
relationship between Obama and Bibi to improve. He has been investing a
tremendous amount time into this issue, because Peres continues to yearn for the
time when Bibi will go back to negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas. And therefore,
what we are seeing between Obama and Peres and Bibi is a delicate, fragile dance
for three, saturated with passion and desires. It turns out that in this absurd
place you don’t need two to tango – you need three.
Translated by Hannah