JERUSALEM – Traditionally, a new American president phones each of his country’s closest allies in the early days after taking office.
On Jan. 21, 2009, Barack Obama’s first full day as president – he made phone calls to four Middle Eastern leaders — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Jordan's King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
That was Day One of the Obama administration.
This is Day 22, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hearing crickets from his old pal, Joe Biden.
What exactly is going on? Is there already trouble in paradise? What does this mean for U.S.-Israeli relations?
On Tuesday, ALL ISRAEL NEWS founder and Editor-in-Chief Joel C. Rosenberg discussed these issues – and the rising Iran threat – with David Brody, host of the new TV program, “The Water Cooler.”
Brody, a long-time correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), has launched this program on the new conservative digital news platform, Just The News.
“Let's start with a 30,000-foot view,” Brody began. “Biden’s in. Trump is out. What's the take on the streets of Israel, if you will, as to what that means for Israel?”
“Donald Trump was enormously popular here in Israel because he didn't just say nice things about Israel – most presidents do, President Obama excepted, he was a train wreck with the Israeli people,” Rosenberg replied. “At one point Obama was down to 4% approval ratings.”
“But Donald Trump became enormously popular because it wasn't just rhetoric,” Rosenberg continued. “He actually did a whole series of very, very positive moves here.”
“Now the way he left office ... shocked people here,” Rosenberg added. "But Israelis don't have strong opinions one way or the other in terms of impeachment or not impeachment.”
Regarding Biden, Israelis “aren't scared that he's going to be a train wreck in terms of chemistry or his love for Israel,” Rosenberg said. “But it's going to be about his judgment, and it's going to be about does he get into a deal with Iran that's as bad or worse than….Obama made, or has he and his team learned some lessons and they're going to be much savvier?”
Brody pressed Rosenberg on how Biden will handle the Iran issue.
“Look, I think Biden does not want to deal with Iran,” Rosenberg replied. “He's got COVID to deal with. He's got the economy to deal with. He's got a lot of domestic issues to deal with. Iran is not an issue he wants to deal with, but Iran is forcing themselves on the agenda.”
Rosenberg noted that Iran is enriching uranium above or at the 20% line, which he noted was, according to some experts, “the very red line that Prime Minister Netanyahu in 2012 told the U.N., ‘If you go there, it's going to trigger Israeli air strikes.’”
“Now, I'm being told by senior Israeli defense officials, no, they don't think Iran is quite at that red line, but they're getting close.”
“Joel, what’s the view inside the Knesset?” Brody asked. “What about Netanyahu and his relationship with Biden and what kind of political atmosphere is there as it relates to this new administration?”
“Well, David, that's a great question, because historically, Prime Minister Netanyahu and now President Biden have had a great relationship – they disagree on a lot of things, but they've had a warm personal relationship.”
“But as you and I tape this interview, President Biden has not called the prime minister of Israel, and weeks are going by.”
“That has never happened. I can't think of a single example. in the modern era in which an American president wouldn't call the leader of his most important Middle Eastern ally?
“What are we supposed to make of that, Joel?”
“He's busy?” Rosenberg quipped.
As Brody laughed, Rosenberg added, “I think that it's a signal – it's certainly being read here as a signal that, ‘Bibi Netanyahu you think you're so special, we'll get to you eventually,’” Rosenberg said referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.
“But I think the other issue is, I don't think Biden and his team have an answer for the question that Netanyahu is going to ask, which is: ‘What are you going to do with Iran?’” Rosenberg said. “And, ‘Won't you let us – Israel and our Arab allies in the region – be part of the conversation in helping you craft that strategy?’ I don't think Biden has an answer to that yet. And that's a problem because Iran is forcing itself onto the agenda.”
Last year, on Sept. 15 – just two weeks after the launch of ALL ISRAEL NEWS – Brody and Rosenberg covered the Abraham Accords together on the South Lawn of the White House, then interviewed Vice President Mike Pence on the historic significance of the Arab-Israeli peace deals.
Rosenberg and Brody also spoke at an event in South Dakota on Sept. 19 – broadcast on radio nationwide – calling on Christians to pray for revival in America and peace in Israel and the Middle East.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.