Ariel Sharon used to recount, with a bit of mockery, how the late Menachem Begin, when he received a phone call from President Ronald Reagan, would get up from his seat, stand up in the room, lean on his stick and talk to the president. Sharon would tell him: Sit down please, don't make an effort. The president can't see you. Begin would reply: With the president of the United States one must speak standing up!
Begin argued, even quarreled, with Samuel Lewis, who served as the US ambassador to Israel. But with the White House, with the White House's landlord, he was submissive, he was a "tatala" (a child in Yiddish). Begin described Jimmy Carter, who forced him to withdraw from all of Sinai and the Yamit region and recognize the Palestinians' legitimate rights, as one of the great people of the generation, similar to Jabotinsky. In a different occasion he asked Sharon to end the settlement enterprise. I promised President Reagan that we would build five settlements and not a single one more, said Begin, complete five and the mission will have been accomplished. Sharon recounted that too with a flicker of ridicule.
Twenty years later, when it was Sharon's turn to become prime minister, he was very much attentive to the US president. During his term it was George W. Bush. Sharon was afraid of him. He stored in his mind every sentence, full stop and comma which came out of the president's mouth. He made sure to fulfill every word and shred of a promise he made to Bush.
Israel's prime ministers lent a quivery ear to the American presidents. They knew why. They remembered that the United States is like the Tablets of the Decalogue of our existence as a state. There were great heroes, generals and underground commanders among our prime ministers: David Ben-Gurion, Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Sharon. They were courageous concerning themselves and a lot less courageous when it came to the State.
From this aspect, from this aspect too, Benjamin Netanyahu is unusual: He is courageous when it comes to the State and a big coward concerning himself. He is in constant, personal, governmental and party-related fear. His relations with US presidents were unsuccessful, never good, neither with Bill Clinton in the first term nor with Barack Obama in his second and third terms. Something there just doesn't click. There is distrust, lack of chemistry. Who knows whose fault it is. The prime minister may be allowed to base his future and welfare on one private American, a casino tycoon, but not the future, security and welfare of the State.
This government spatters insults and curses at the American administration like spray from a Hilltop Youth's cache. Defense Minister Bogie Ya'alon with the messianic and obsessive Kerry, whose only passion is a Nobel Prize. The deprived youth group of Danny Danon and Tzipi Hotovely. In the Habayit Hayehudi party – contrary to its pretense, slogan and sticker – nothing new has started. All the old things continue. Everyone there, at Habayit Hayehudi, is Orit Strock. There are too many Miri Regevs in the Likud. The government's rhetoric and volume express Strock's liberality with Regev's political intelligence.
The prime minister whispers something, expresses reservations, issues an indirect statement, his office hints. He was furious with Bennett for stabbing him in a personal and personality-related manner with "befuddlement." We didn't hear his anger over the damage Habayit Hayehudi's chairman caused Israel's foreign relations and, implicitly, its security. Bennett is preparing a cyber attack against Netanyahu for a rainy day. He has teamed up with a sophisticated production company to produce and distribute offensive and insulting clips skillfully and rapidly, if and when Netanyahu dares accept Kerry's principles.
One doesn’t have to be an American secretary of state to know that our security and prosperity are temporary, that an accelerated de-legitimization campaign is on its way, that the boycotts and bans will increase. Unfortunately, economic sanctions against Israel are closer and more available than new sanctions against Iran. Rouhani in Tehran and Abbas in Ramallah have succeeded in doing what Arab leaders have longed for and failed to do for years: To drive a wedge, or at least a thorn, between Israel and the US.
In this state of affairs, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is functioning as a substitute mother or super nanny. Lieberman, as a nursery teacher, is hanging a bib on the neck of the government's children and feeding them oatmeal with a spoon.