President Obama is known for his cool. He's been called "No drama Obama" by some of his associates. And certainly in the realm of foreign policy, his response to events has been phlegmatic. The Iranian government sent its thugs into the streets to beat and murder democracy demonstrators, and Obama stayed aloof. The Iranians arrested three American hikers, held them for months in prison, and now accuse two of spying -- and Obama remained calm. A Muslim American opened fire on U.S. soldiers at Fort Hood, and the president initially warned the nation not to jump to conclusions.
But there was one outrage that provoked the president's ire -- when Israel announced a permit for the construction of 1,600 new apartments on Jewish-owned land in a Jerusalem neighborhood. Though Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately apologized to the visiting Vice President Biden about the timing of the announcement (by which Netanyahu was apparently blindsided), the reportedly "livid" Obama was unsatisfied.
On presidential instructions, Secretary of State Clinton phoned Israel's prime minister and delivered a 45-minute harangue about Israel's decision to build apartments for Jews in the Jewish capital. Details of the irate phone call were immediately released to the press, with then-State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley offering that Clinton had told Netanyahu that "the United States considered the announcement a deeply negative signal about Israel's approach to the bilateral relationship."
In the choreographed world of diplomacy, that amounted to a fierce rebuke. But Obama wasn't finished. A few days later, presidential adviser David Axelrod appeared on a Sunday talk show and repeated the administration line that the Israeli announcement was an "affront" and an "insult."
Later, when Netanyahu visited the White House, Obama delivered the final slaps -- declining to pose for pictures or take press questions with the prime minister, delivering a list of steps Israel would have to take to restore trust, and then pointedly walking out on the prime minister with the parting words "Let me know if there is anything new."
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