Obama’s trip to Israel *really* helps clarify his relationship with Bibi

A lot of ink has been spilled analyzing the relationship between the current leaders of Israel and its closest ally. Tension. Drama. Snubs. Dislike. Hot mic. These two should get a room — or better, a TV show. Even I’ve indulged in the soap opera from time to time [See: The real reason Obama and Bibi can’t just get along].

But Obama’s visit this week allowed pundits to recalibrate their assessment of his relationship with his Israeli counterpart. Here’s a quick sample:

Bibi and Obama in Love? – The Daily Beast

Obama and Bibi make nice – Open Zion (OK, technically also The Daily Beast)

Body language ‘shows improvement’ in Obama-Bibi – Yediot Aharonot

Bibi suddenly eager to wash Obama’s car – The Forward [this one is a month old, but it has a picture]

The question made its way into an Obama laugh line — “Any drama between me and my friend Bibi over the years was just a plot to create material for Eretz Nehederet” [who knew Rap Genius had moved on to Presidential speeches?] — and the Israeli Embassy in DC even put together a Golden Girls-themed promotional video [ICYMI]:

So Obama and Netanyahu are back to getting along. But lest you mistake their relationship for friendship among equals, we were treated to the following account in the morning headlines:

At the urging of President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Turkey on Friday for the deaths of eight of its citizens during a raid in 2010 on a Gaza flotilla.

In a 30-minute phone call with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Netanyahu acknowledged “operational mistakes” in the raid and said he “regretted” the incident had led to a deterioration of the two countries’ relationship, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive nature of the call.

Obama, who finished up a two-day visit to Israel on Friday, was by Netanyahu’s side during the phone call, which he helped broker. The president joined the Turkish and Israeli leaders’ conversation at the end of the call.

So next time Obama and Bibi have a little spat in the headlines, relax. We can finally stop wondering about their relationship: it’s father and begrudging delinquent son. In the spirit of Passover, I’ll leave which of the four he is up to you.


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