When our first son was 6 or 7 years old, my wife took him to a movie and a meal with one of his best friends. They were supposed to be having fun, but as often happens with children, the more effort one puts in, the less gratitude they offer. At one point, when my wife realized that the friend wasn't happy, she asked him--I assume with a tone of slight annoyance, though luckily I was not there--"So what do you want?" His answer has been a maxim in our family ever since: "What I want I won't get."
"What I want I won't get" is our family way of saying, "We are disappointed, because we were spoiled to the point of believing that we deserve something that we will not get." "What I want I won't get" is also an excellent point of departure for any discussion of Israel's expectations concerning the U.S. election of 2016. In fact, it works for Americans, too. Just as Americans understand that this time around what they want is not going to happen, so does Israel.
It is hardly a secret that in 2016 Americans are unhappy with the offerings of their political system. They look at Donald Trump and do not see a president. They look at Hillary Clinton and feel deja vu. For Israel, the reasons for unhappiness are slightly but not completely different. Israelis look at Trump and do not have the sense that this man is stable enough to be trustworthy. Israelis look at Clinton and know that they can trust her--they can trust her to pick a fight with their elected government. That is also deja vu.
Israelis, of course, do not vote in American elections, and their interest in this process is fairly narrow-minded: They want the next American president to be friendlier toward Israel than the current one. They want him or her to be as friendly as they come, as understanding as possible, as supportive as he or she can be. In some election cycles, the choice is easy. In 2004, they had no trouble understanding that George W. Bush was better from an Israeli standpoint than John Kerry. The people and their government--Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was hardly shy about it--wanted Bush to win. In 2008 and 2012, Israelis and their government-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was hardly shy about it--wanted the candidate that was not Barack Obama to win, and they were twice disappointed.
This year is different. The people are confused and their government is shy. It is shy because of bitter past experience. Netanyahu does not want to repeat a mistake by...