Amid a spate of news reports saying President Barack Obama treated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rudely during the Israeli P.M.’s recent trip there has been a spate of speculation as to why. But the most intriguing theory comes from Glenn Reynolds, aka InstaPundit:
But it’s also possible — I’d say likely — that there’s something else going on. I think Obama expects Israel to strike Iran, and wants to put distance between the United States and Israel in advance of that happening. (Perhaps he even thinks that treating Israel rudely will provoke such a response, saving him the trouble of doing anything about Iran himself, and avoiding the risk that things might go wrong if he does). On the most optimistic level, maybe this whole thing is a sham, and the U.S. is really helping Israel strike Iran, with this as distraction. The question for readers is which of these — not necessarily mutually exclusive — explanations is most plausible.
That would in fact make more sense than some other other explanations which don’t seem to hold up (if it’s to pressure Israel, it is bound to create backlash political within Israel; Obama has worked with lots of Jews during his career so saying he hates Jews doesn’t simply doesn’t hold up and is, in general, an explanation overused for years against those who differ on Middle East policy; if it’s to isolate Netanyau there are dangers that it could go beyond political message sending and trigger protective nationalism instincts among Israelis).
And, as Reynolds says, it could be a combination of things — plus coupled with the fact that Netanyahu simply may have truly world-class, lousy, terrible personal chemistry with Obama. An Obama-Netanyahu encounter may be less Obama-Biden and more Obama-McCain. And chemistry does influence relations, politics — and history.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.