Who Obama and Netanyahu were really addressing during their meeting
Analysis: The American president and Israeli prime minister were not talking to each other during last week's meeting in New York; their respective messages were directed at Donald Trump and Ehud Barak, the potential successors of whom they are so afraid.
What are the chances that Michelle and Barack Obama will be Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu's guests at their home in Caesarea? One in a million? One in 2 million? Let's just say that the chances of it happening are about as likely of the chance that the Obamas will invite the Netanyahus to their private home.
One can easily imagine the sigh of relief that escaped the American president's mouth after what is likely his last official meeting with the Israeli prime minister. If it were up to him, he would never meet him again.
The goal of Wednesday's meeting, which did not include a single second of intimacy, was not really to bid farewell to each other. The two leaders are more concerned about those who are coming than about those who are going. Obama was talking to Netanyahu but addressing Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, and Netanyahu was talking to Obama but addressing former Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Netanyahu, we have known for years, has no problem faking emotions and nonexistent relations. He does it even better than Sally in "When Harry Met Sally." Obama finds it more difficult to do, but he also made an effort for what he sees as a sacred goal—helping Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton enter the White House, and this time he turned to the Jewish vote.
Netanyahu, on his part, wants to prove to the Israeli public—but mainly to one member of the public called Ehud Barak—that his frayed relations with Obama did not fundamentally damage Israeli-American relations or adversely affect America's military aid to Israel. Afterall, look at how friendly the American president was during our meeting.
That is all these two leaders see before their eyes today. Obama is terrified by the possibility that Trump will take his seat and erase everything he has done in the past eight years. Netanyahu, by the same token, sees Barak travelling around the world, meeting political officials, writing articles, making occasional appearances on Israel's television screens and creating an illusion that there is an alternative.
So if you thought that what you saw on the screen was a meeting between an American president and an Israeli prime minister, you were wrong.
What you saw were their alternatives.