Now that the rift between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government has acquired the status of “crisis,” it is worth stepping back from the details of the spat and looking at the big picture. While the Ramat Shlomo announcement and its immediate aftermath were the immediate cause of the Obama administration’s ire, this was a crisis that was waiting to happen and was probably inevitable. The primary reason for this is the fundamental disconnect between Obama and Netanyahu, not only as personalities but, more importantly, in terms of their long term goals for Israel and the Middle East.
To a certain extent, Obama and Netanyahu deserve each other. As I have written before, they are, ironically, remarkably similar in many ways. They are both charismatic, articulate, extremely image conscious politicians whose capacity for visionary rhetoric often far outstrips their competence. Both have been accused of being essentially empty and shallow personalities, which is true in both cases to some extent, but ignores the fact that they are also ideologically driven idealists with very clear visions of the future they are striving toward.