Barack Obama couldn't pass up his last opportunity to put a knife in the back of the Israelis, whom he has demonstrated for years in word and deed that he doesn't like very much. He doesn't like Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, at all.
With his 15 minutes in the limelight running out, as it must for every celebrity, even a president, the president no longer has to fool Jewish voters that he's a friend of the Jewish state, which he has done through oft-gritted teeth. He can speak with abandon, and if mischief at the United Nations makes life difficult for the new president, so much the better.
But his knife in the back comes at a fortunate time for both America and Israel, because the new administration will be eager to make things right with America's only reliable friend in the Middle East. That friend is fighting mad. So deep is the anger that the Israelis have dispensed with diplomatic language and are telling it like it is, with the bark on and with candor not often seen and heard in public.
The Israeli ambassador to Washington said Monday that his country would present "evidence" to President-elect Donald Trump that the Obama administration did not merely step aside, abstaining from voting while the U.N. Security Council adopted a mean-spirited and one-sided rebuke of Israel for enabling settlements on the West Bank, but had plotted to make sure the resolution was drawn and adopted.
"It's an old story that the United Nations gangs up against Israel," Ambassador Ron Dermer told CNN News. "What is new is that the United States did not stand up and oppose that gang-up. And what is outrageous is that the United States was actually behind the gang-up."
He said the proof Israel has will be presented to the new administration "through appropriate channels and if they want to share it with the American people, they are welcome to do it."
Presidents are usually eager to depart the White House premises with dignity intact and with a reasonably clean slate left for the new man. There was no love lost between Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, and the air in the ride up Pennsylvania Avenue to the steps of the Capitol for the Eisenhower inauguration was said to have been cooler inside the limousine than outside, but good faith and civility of a sort nevertheless prevailed.
Hillary took a few sticks of furniture with her when the Clintons departed the White House, but when it was called to her attention that she had somehow mixed up family goods with the nation's own antiques, she sent the purloined goods back (whether reluctantly or not). Perhaps Bubba thought he was only getting back at the yankees for their having taken some of the family silver a century and more ago.
But the mischief last week at the United Nations was far more serious, because it was intended to hurt the nation's interests beyond petty thievery. If President Obama was worried about leaving a memorable and lasting legacy, he can relax. Now he's got one.
The Israeli prime minister's spokesman said separately that "we have ironclad information that the Obama administration really helped push this resolution and helped craft it, from sources internationally and sources in the Arab world."
Mr. Obama's White House denied everything, as expected, but the denial was carefully crafted to deny with a certain precision what had not actually been alleged. "We did not draft this resolution, we did not introduce this resolution," Ben Rhodes, the president's deputy national-security adviser said. "We made the decision [not to veto the resolution] when it came up for a vote."
The Israelis called the denial the work of "a master of fiction," a barb at Mr. Rhodes, who holds a master's degree in creative writing, and aspires to be a novelist.
The Israeli evidence, such as it may be, obviously was gleaned from sources within the Arab world, where Israeli agents are quite at home. Mr. Obama's men may learn that alliances shift in unexpected ways in the Middle East and at the United Nations, where deceit is a practiced virtue.
The Israelis clearly perceive Donald Trump as the ally they have wanted in the White House, and expect President Obama to make further diplomatic mischief before all his dreams and schemes turn into pumpkins at the stroke of noon on Jan. 20.
His aggressive pushback to the U.N. resolution and its mischief is to make it clear and plain that Israel thinks it will soon have a friend in Washington. Â