As I write, Barack Obama and Bibi Netanyahu are still meeting in Washington. The meeting has been extended for half an hour, Ha’aretz reports. Until the protocol is released in 25 years or so, we can guess that Bibi is lecturing to Barack about the Spanish Inquisition, Masada, the Holocaust and Iran, and Barack is too polite to shush him. In the meantime, my curtain-raiser is up at the American Prospect.
Hebrew is a compressed language. Much disdain can be packed in a few syllables. To say of the prime minister, “He’s someone who cracks under pressure,” takes just two words: hu lahitz.
When a television mike caught the Israeli Finance Ministry’s budget chief using those words last week, the budget chief denied he was talking about Benjamin Netanyahu. The denial was hard to take seriously. For one thing, the official resigned the next day in disgust over Netanyahu’s handling of a national budget crisis. For another, the description precisely fit the prime minister’s behavior.
In the lead-up to Netanyahu’s meeting today with Barack Obama, I’m sure the president’s staffers have studied the Israeli leader’s positions on the Palestinians and on Syria and Iran. Let’s hope they also carefully watched how Netanyahu dealt with the first major domestic challenge of his new term in office. It was a characteristic Netanyahu failure of negotiating skills, leaving him deeply politically unpopular just a few weeks after taking office. But the budget affair needs to be read carefully. The pressure under which Netanyahu bent was local, not foreign…
Read the rest here; I promise it’s shorter than Bibi’s lecture.