By Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS.org—-
Most of those debating when President Joe Biden is going to finally pick up the phone and call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are either overestimating or underestimating the significance of this kerfuffle. The point isn’t when the two leaders will chat or how insulted Netanyahu should be by the obvious snub. The real issue is what it portends for the relationship between the two nations over the next four years. It also relates to the temptation to which every past US administration has succumbed: trying to intervene in Israeli politics.
On Tuesday, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki promised that the much-talked-about phone call would happen “soon.” As to when “soon” was, she told reporters to “stay tuned” and that the chat with the prime minister would be the first with any Middle East leader. Only last week, she wouldn’t say whether Israel was an ally when asked directly about it, but now describes the ties between the two countries by saying, “Israel is, of course, an ally. Israel is a country where we have an important strategic security relationship.”
That’s good news for those who feared that the absence of direct communication between the two leaders was a sign that the alliance was on the rocks. Or is it?
While not on the same scale as the message that former President Barack Obama sent Netanyahu when he chose to visit surrounding Arab countries but not Israel in 2009, making the prime minister wait his turn to speak with the new president was not an accident. After the uber-close relationship between Netanyahu and Trump, the White House wanted to make it clear to the Israeli leader that he understood that things are different now.
It’s true that the president is prioritizing domestic issues. It’s also true that it’s generally a good thing when Israel is not at the top of any president’s agenda. That often means that the Jewish state is under attack in one sense or another or because the United States is once again foolishly trying to “save Israel from itself.” Israel is always better off when it is left alone to deal with its problems in its own way without foreign interference. Continue Reading….