Israel and Obama's speech: Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu picks a stupid, unnecessary, and wrong fight with the president.

Making government work better.
May 23 2011 10:55 AM

Netanyahu Blew It

The Israeli prime minister picks a stupid, unnecessary, and wrong fight with President Obama.

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Think about this from the perspective of the White House. The effort to refocus attention on the difficult dynamics of the Arab Spring, which is quickly becoming an Arab long hot summer, and may well become an Arab winter, has now been waylaid by another dispute with an Israeli prime minister whose repeated and often petty acts have caused the president needless angst. 

Netanyahu could have, and should have, positioned himself as a staunch ally, thankful to the United States for continued support, appreciative of the difficult decisions the United States has often made.  He could have focused on the fact that at this time of tumult in the region, Israel is, has been, and will continue to be the sole, true democratic state in the region. Hence the cultural and value-based alliance that supersedes all others.  As we watch the Arab nations slowly—and uncertainly—evolve toward our common values, Netanyahu should have said, Israel and the United States can enjoy the fact that they already have a relationship based on the deepest of emotional and political connections.

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Netanyahu's focus could have also been on the uncertainties of any alliance with the Arab states, the deep cultural divisions between the U.S. and the Arab nations, the possibility—which nobody desires—that even Egypt might end up as an Islamic fundamentalist state. And in that context, Netanyahu could have said, isn't having an ally like Israel even more important?

But he rejected that path, and we are now watching an unnecessary and bitter dispute between the White House and Israel, as the Arab states get a pass.

Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of the state of New York, hosts Viewpoint on Current TV. Follow @eliotspitzer on Twitter.