It is no secret to anybody paying attention that the United States-Israel relationship has been under a great deal of strain during the Obama administration. The extent of the damage was made clear during Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s trip to Washington last week: the top Israeli official was unceremoniously denied meetings with a variety of high-level political officials, including Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Perhaps the most telling absence was Secretary of State John Kerry, who bore the brunt of a series of disrespectful comments from Ya’alon regarding Kerry’s failed attempt at shuttle diplomacy between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships earlier this year.
In January, Ya’alon was quoted in the Israeli media, Rothman was saying he was calling the Secretary of State John Kerry “messianic” and “obsessive” in his mission to broker a peace deal between Israel and Palestine. He further quipped that “the only thing to ‘save us’ is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was quick to offer a rejoinder, stating that “…the remarks of the Defense Minister if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs.” He was later compelled to apologize for the off-putting remarks, but it appears that the ill-timed jib would have lasting consequences for Ya’alon’s relationships in Washington.