Just days before the mid-term elections, with Democrats poised to suffer serious losses, tensions between the Obama White House and the Netanyahu government remain sky high.
A senior Obama administration official openly used vulgarity with a reporter to mock and disparage the Israeli leader.
And the administration appears set to cave in to Iranian demands over its nuclear program in talks to conclude at the end of November.
If the President and his team feel this comfortable being this hostile to an Israeli leader before an election, imagine how hostile the President could be when he’s a lame duck and not facing the voters again ever.
As I noted yesterday, a train wreck in U.S.-Israel relations is now in motion.
“Very publicly, very nastily, and very worryingly, we are witnessing the collapse of an alliance,” wrote a leading Israeli news editor.
The White House and State Department on Thursday officially tried to distance themselves from the comments. Secretary of State John Kerry did too. But that’s not enough, say American Jewish leaders. They want the unnamed official found and fired as evidence that he or she really does not reflect what the President and his inner circle really believe.
“I was personally attacked purely because I defend Israel, and despite all the attacks against me, I will continue to defend our country, I will continue to defend the citizens of Israel,” Mr. Netanyahu told the Knesset in a speech today. “I respect and appreciate the deep ties with the United States we’ve had since the establishment of the state. We’ve had arguments before, and we’ll have them again, but this will not come at the expense of the deep connection between our peoples and our countries.”
There is some speculation here in Israel that perhaps the American senior official’s comments were a pre-emptive strike Netanyahu designed to discredit and delegitimize the Israeli leader’s views ahead of what is shaping up to be a terrible deal over the Iranian nuclear program which may come later this month. Should the deal turn out to be an act of appeasement, Netanyahu would likely feel compelled to say so. Perhaps the White House is trying to signal to the international community and to Congress that it doesn’t care what the government of Israel thinks.
A few additional thoughts:
It is painful to watch personal tensions growing between White House and the State Department and the Netanyahu government at moment when Iran nuclear threat requires unity between two long-standing allies.
What is stunning to me is not simply how much the Obama team disagrees with the Israel’s government on policy issues such as Iran, Jerusalem, the ’67 borders, etc, but how visceral is the Obama team’s anger with Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Democrats in Congress need to ask publicly: Why are White House emotions “red hot” against Israel’s government, yet so eager to accommodate a terrorist state like Iran?
Why do we see such intense emotion from the Obama team about Netanyahu, a faithful ally of the US, but never against Putin or Khamenei?
Bizarre, to say the least: President Obama sees Israel as big obstacle to Iran deal while Egypt, Jordan, Saudis & emirates quietly align with Israel against Iran.
Now imagine how free President Obama will feel to turn against Israel and appease Iran after Tuesday.