In today's Haaretz, Rabbi Eric Yoffie considers how Israel got everything so wrong and what its leaders must do to make peace with the White House.
Americans are resolutely centrist. Israel’s
politics may be veering right, but America’s are not. Despite difficult
economic conditions and high unemployment, America reelected a centrist
president who speaks the language of moderation, compromise, and social
...The hysterical, Obama-hating Jewish conservatives were wrong about
everything. They said that Jews could be convinced to shift their votes
to Republicans; they couldn’t.
They said that Obama was an Israel-hating radical; he isn’t. They said
that a Jewish alignment with the Republican Party was the only way to
protect Jewish interests; it’s not.
Note to these conservatives: The Democratic Party has won four of the
last six presidential elections, and has won the popular vote in five
out of six.
...Conservative, white Evangelicals are less important than they once
were. Americans voters showed little interest in opposition to gay
marriage and abortion—the social issues that largely define these
Evangelicals. In fact, the voters approved of gay marriage in several
states and punished candidates who expressed radical views on abortion.
...Foreign policy remains far down on the priority list for American
voters, despite claims to the contrary by neo-conservative leaders.
Foreign policy was virtually absent from voter consciousness for most of
the campaign. Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer have argued that it
would have been a huge advantage for Romney if he had been more
aggressive in raising the Libya/Benghazi issue, but there is no evidence
to support this assertion. The simple fact is that when it comes to foreign policy right now, Americans don’t much care.
...the bad news is that personal relationships matter as well, and it is
hardly a secret to anyone that the Obama-Netanyahu relationship lacks
the respect, openness and affection that previous presidents have had
with Israel’s leaders. With an Iranian bomb looming, for this situation
to continue is nothing less than a disaster for Israel.
And the key is for the Israel’s prime minister to take the initiative
in repairing the relationship. This is not a question, as some
commentators have suggested, of Obama and Netanyahu “learning to live
with each other.” The election is over. The newly-elected president of
the world’s most powerful country is the senior partner; Israel’s prime
minister is the junior partner. Mr. Netanyahu needs to act accordingly
and do what is necessary to build personal trust with the president of
the Jewish state’s most important ally. And he needs to do so now.
It's hard to recall a small country so dependent on a large benefactor getting something like this so wrong. Netanyahu, who did everything but stuff ballot boxes for Romney, has shown himself to be an inept bully who played his hand recklessly and came away with empty pockets. Bibi may pay dearly if he doesn't go, cap in hand, to seek forgiveness from the president he so thoroughly disrespected.