Obama has proven that a second term president feels strong and liberated. The comments Obama made about Netanyahu are not new, but their accompanying music is, as is the timing: The American president is blaming Netanyahu directly for the lack of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Past prime ministers knew that warm relations with an American president were about more than just courtesy; they were a key factor in Israel's deterrence and resilience. Netanyahu's mistake was that he did not develop a warm channel of communication with the White House and spoke Republican instead of American.
On Tuesday – through Jeffrey Goldberg – Obama relayed an important message to Israel. He accused the country's premier of leading it – more or less – toward destruction. Obama does not hate Netanyahu, he is indifferent towards him.
For a while now Obama has told associates he does not believe a word that comes out of Netanyahu's mouth. The US president does not trust Netanyahu and does not consider him an ally - someone he can move things forward with. Now, according to Goldberg, Obama has put a mirror in front of Israel before the elections and clarified: Netanyahu will not look out for Israel's interests and will cause the international community to view Israel as a pariah state with the clear characteristics of an apartheid state.
Those who are familiar with Obama's analysis of the Middle East know that he has long since claimed that without a two-state solution Israel will not be able to preserve a Jewish majority. He has said this in the past, also publicly. Now he is calling the one who is to blame by name: Netanyahu.
Obama could not say such things before his reelection. He is also a politician. But now he is presenting his worldview and explaining to Israel that he loves it, but from a liberal angle. For years the American president has felt that one does not have to be a Likudnik in order to love Israel, and now he is ringing all the bells before it is too late.
The president of the United States wants to save Israel from its leadership.
Prior to his appointment as the next secretary of state, Kerry told Obama about his peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. Obama listened, shrugged his shoulders and told Kerry cynically to call him when the sides reach the point where they are ready to sign an agreement.
Obama will no longer exert all of his influence to advance the peace process. After being burned over the past four years in his dealings with Netanyahu, the president is pointing a finger at the person who started the fire.
Obama's comments are worrying. Not because he will turn his back on Jerusalem. He won't. But from now on Israel will face presidential indifference, which Netanyahu earned through his conduct. We will all suffer from it.