Netanyahu: The Israeli Leader No President Can Stomach

Netanyahu sleeps with both eyes open-- one watching Israel's enemies, the other fixated on America.

But Bibi’s troubles with U.S. presidents existed long before the Iran nuclear issue. It is thus more plausible that, as Miller told me, the personalities of both leaders are combining with these dynamics to create a “perfect storm.” With regards to Obama, Miller cites youth as a major factor. He points out that the president was only six years old during Israel’s Six Day War in 1967, and this has given him a different perspective on Israel than his older predecessors, who remember the darkest days in the Jewish state’s short history.

With regards to Netanyahu, Miller repeatedly emphasized that he is much more “suspicious and wary” of the United States than other Israeli leaders. While all Israeli prime ministers must sleep with one eye open, Miller said, Netanyahu sleeps with both eyes open— one watching Israel’s enemies and the other on the United States.

Miller also said that, paradoxically, given his American upbringing and superior language skills, Netanyahu isn’t as “comfortable and confident” in dealing with American leaders as his predecessors were. Miller believes it is this lack of confidence that is behind much of Netanyahu’s “brashness.”

“Rabin would never behave like Netanyahu” towards the United States, Miller said, because “Rabin was more comfortable with and less suspicious of” America than Bibi. But rather a display of arrogance, as it often appears, “Netanyahu’s boldness reflects an absence of confidence.”

If recent history is anything to go by, Congress should be able to help Bibi with that on Tuesday.

Zachary Keck is the managing editor of The National Interest. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.

Image: Official White House photo by Pete Souza