Learning To Play Well With Others

When Bibi Netanyahu was in grade school, his teachers probably did not check the box on his report card where it said, "plays well with others."  He has a long history of clashes with political colleagues and others.  Two of his stronger critics and rivals inside his own Cabinet and are former senior aides who broke with him.

So it comes as no surprise that he also has a long history of difficulty in getting along with foreign leaders – French, German and British but most notably Americans.

It goes back to the administration of George H.W. Bush. Bush's Secretary of State, James A. Baker III, said Sunday, "I barred him from the State Department." The reason, he explained, was Netanyahu's accusation that "American policy in the Middle East is based on lies and distortion."

President Bill Clinton also found Netanyahu abrasive and offensive.  During peace negotiations at Camp David,  Ambassador Dennis Ross, the U.S. Mideast envoy, reported, "Netanyahu was nearly insufferable, lecturing and telling us how to deal with the Arabs."  After the PM left, Clinton said, "He thinks he is the superpower and we are here to do whatever he requires."

Netanyahu's 2011 rude Oval Office lecture of Barack Obama on live television did nothing to thaw their already frosty relationship.  Nor did false reports – apparently from Netanyahu's supporters – that he had been snubbed at the White House and refused meetings he requested

The latest incident should come as no surprise despite the mock outrage it generated.  An unnamed White House official, in an interview with The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, called Netanyahu a "chickenshit." 

Secretary of John Kerry called Netanyahu to apologize and deny that is the administration's view of the PM. 

Both sides have behaved in unacceptable ways that are bad for both.  This is only the latest example of the need for adult supervision on both sides.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.