Before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went into a three-hour meeting with President Barack Obama on Monday, they exchanged pleasantries in front of the press. Both parties had an interest in achieving a thaw in the personal chill that has characterized their earlier meetings. It would be good politics for both of them.
Netanyahu sought to establish the point that, with regard to Iran, the US and Israel had identical interests. He went through the boilerplate language of shared values and common aspirations, concluding poetically, "We are you, and you are us. We're together."
It sounded almost spiritual. Who knew? Thankfully, nobody suggested prayer or a laying on of hands. Later that evening, Netanyahu addressed the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) Annual Conference a few blocks from the White House. In that environment, his tone and emphasis was different.
A columnist for Israel Hayom, a widely-read Israeli daily, characterized the speech to AIPAC, stating, "Netanyahu…paid the necessary lip service to the big lie that he and Obama are on the same page." The column indicated that Netanyahu was "in effect, going around the President's back" to exhort his support base in America "to be on his side, if and when he takes military action against Iran."
Israel Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson. Mr. Adelson is one of the richest men in the world. He is a personal friend and financial backer of Netanyahu, and a $10 million dollar (so far) contributor to Newt Gingrich. Interestingly, the contribution to Gingrich came in right after Gingrich described the Palestinians as "an invented people."
Mr. Adelson, who is not a tall man, likes to say, "When I sit on my wallet, I'm the biggest man in the room." Not that there's anything wrong with that.