Who ever would have thought that Halperin-Heilemann's cheeky little political tell-all, Double Down, would, of all books, have been the one to reveal that highest-level admission which would, in turn, lead to a fundamental shift in 21st-century world diplomacy? Yet it does. For it was during the 2012 U.S. presidential campaign, according to the tittering authors, that Barack Obama conceded the awful truth about our principle Mideast, ahem, ally: "We all know that Bibi Netanyahu is a pain in the ass."
Unless dictated word for word by Bibi himself, there's no diplomatic deal with any of his neighbors that could ever be short of apocalyptically "dangerous" and a "historic mistake"--which is what renders this quote, from a former Obama administration official, so unfathomable: "The Palestinian issue is the big casualty of this deal. Now that they have an Iran deal, over the strong objections of Israel, it’s going to be very hard to persuade Netanyahu to do something on the Palestinian front."
That's either some stunning naiveté or the sourest of grapes. It's going to be hard to induce Netanyahu to adopt a more humane, more realistic policy toward the Palestinians? To cease the ever-expanding atrocity of Israeli settlement sprawl? To accept that his nation's hegemonic grip is increasingly inflammatory, simply unsustainable, and utterly antithetical to U.S. interests--and thus, in the long run, Israel's?
When has Netanyahu ever displayed the slightest regard for President Obama's diplomatic position, or demonstrated a willingness to do anything less than shore up his own political one?
And the answer to that is what makes this reporting, from the Jerusalem Post, so unsettling. Said Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, last night: "We are in a new reality that is different from yesterday.... We will do what we must and will not hesitate for a minute--and there is no need to add another word."
Possibly only some face-saving and all too familiar saber-rattling. But we can't know that. What we do know is that Prime Minister Netanyahu harbors little concern for President Obama's very delicate situation--and that he takes for granted America's eternal sufferance. Unsettling indeed.