Tidbits From Israel
By Ron Jager
The Talmud states that we don’t see things the way they are; we see things the way we are. Barack Obama is a popular president, no doubt about that, being reelected fair and square despite getting an “F” in almost every sphere of decision-making. Obama is also a classical narcissistic personality type, vividly expressed by his latest foray meddling in Israel’s coming election. Hiding behind his newest court Jew, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, Obama has been unable to contain his rage and need to get even with Netanyahu.
Obama’s assumption that he knows better than Netanyahu, better than Israel’s Knesset, and better than Israel’s voters is symptomatic of narcissistic types who generally exaggerate their own importance, achievements, and talents. Obama’s tendency to set goals that are unrealistic and want “the best” of everything is also typical of narcissistic types and reflects much of what’s gone wrong with Obama’s Middle East policies.
Polls published three days before Israel’s elections will provide little comfort to President Obama. All the surveys of opinion before this Tuesday’s vote point in one direction: Netanyahu will win and win big time. That’s a bitter pill for Obama to swallow, believing, as Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg reported last week, that the President knows what is in Israel’s “best interests” better than Netanyahu. It’s not so surprising that Obama has shown rigid reluctance to get tough with Iran, Syria, or Islamists throughout the Middle East, yet has no compunctions about getting tough with Netanyahu. What is it that Netanyahu has done to tick off Obama, exposing his generally hidden narcissistic anger and rage?
It just may be that a second-term Obama is still eager for a confrontation and to get even with Netanyahu after Obama’s humiliation in May 2011. At the time, the Israeli prime minister was invited to speak before both houses of Congress, demonstrating brilliantly to Obama the consequences of picking a fight with a popular ally. At that time, Obama ambushed a visiting Netanyahu with a speech demanding that Israel accept the 1967 lines as a starting point in future peace negotiations. Netanyahu convincingly rejected Obama’s demands, publicly rejecting the presidential dictate, only to be followed by a standing ovation that Netanyahu received when he addressed Congress.
Netanyahu showed that both Democrats and Republicans were united in backing Israel’s position and rejected Obama’s demand concerning the 1967 lines. This was the last major fight picked with Israel by Obama over the peace process. In the ensuing months, he launched a Jewish charm offensive with an eye on the 2012 presidential election. Obama, the narcissist that he is, hasn’t forgotten, and hasn’t forgiven. Interfering in Israel’s elections and attempting to spoil Netanyahu’s reelection chances is simply payback, with more to follow.
We can expect the following scenario if Netanyahu is reelected: Obama will be telling associates he does not believe a word that comes out of Netanyahu’s mouth. Obama will state that he does not trust Netanyahu and does not consider him an ally, someone he can move things forward with. Obama will claim that Netanyahu will not look out for Israel’s interests and will cause the international community to view Israel as a pariah state.
Those who are familiar with Obama’s analysis of the Middle East know that he has long claimed that without a two-state solution Israel will not be able to preserve a Jewish majority. Now he is calling the one who is to blame by name: Netanyahu. The president of the United States will want to save Israel from its leadership. After being burned over the past four years in his dealings with Netanyahu, the president will be pointing a finger at the person who started the fire. Obama will be taking on help to keep up the pressure on Netanyahu.
Much has been written in recent weeks about Obama’s nominees for the three most important cabinet positions—Hagel for Defense, Kerry for State, and Brennan to head the CIA. All three nominees are long-term critics of Israel and overly understanding of the Islamic world, never expecting any accountability from Islamic leaders. Sound familiar? Obama will not be wasting his precious time or his personal prestige during his second term on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Obama will not come out publicly against Netanyahu. Obama will send Hagel, Brennan, and Kerry to make sure that Netanyahu does not sleep soundly at night. They will sustain Obama’s narcissistic rage towards Netanyahu every day and at every opportunity.
The United States and Israel do not have a symmetrical relationship, but Obama and his three nominees would be mistaken to assume that Israel has no options other than to capitulate to him and his dictates. The political, cultural, and, yes, religious alliance between the United States and Israel has been getting stronger, especially during the past four years of the Obama administration, to his chagrin and frustration. This bilateral relationship is now so fully embedded and integrated into the infrastructure of the U.S. defense establishment and in her foreign policy as to be virtually indestructible. Obama, who is at best ambivalent about Israel and determined to create daylight between the two countries, will learn, despite his pathological narcissistic belief that he knows what’s best for Israel, that not even Obama or his three nominees will be able to downgrade the alliance between the United States and the State of Israel. v
Ron Jager is a 25-year veteran of the Israel Defense Forces, where he served as a field mental-health officer and as commander of the central psychiatric military clinic for reserve soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty in 2005, he has been providing consultancy services to NGOs, implementing psychological trauma treatment programs in Israel. Ron currently serves as a strategic advisor to the director of the Shomron Liaison Office. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ronjager.com.