Say what you will about President Obama’s approach to Israel—or of his relationship with American Jews—he sure has mastered the concept of chutzpah.

On Thursday at the State Department, the president gave his big speech on the Middle East, in which he invoked the claims of friendship to tell Israelis “the truth,” which to his mind was that “the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.” On Friday in the Oval Office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his version of the truth, which was that the 1967 border proposed by Mr. Obama as a basis for negotiating the outlines of a Palestinian state was a nonstarter.

Administration reaction to this reciprocal act of friendly truth-telling? “That was Bibi over the top,” the New York Times quoted one senior U.S. official, using the prime minister’s nickname. “That’s not how you address the president of the United States.”

Maybe so. Then again, it isn’t often that this or any other U.S. president welcomes a foreign leader by sandbagging him with an adversarial policy speech a day before the visit. Remember when the Dalai Lama visited Mr. Obama last year? As a courtesy to Beijing, the president made sure to have the Tibetan spiritual leader exit by the door where the White House trash was piled up. And that was 11 months before Hu Jintao’s state visit to the U.S.

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