Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/FLASH90
Obama needs Netanyahu more than he admits in public.

If you plug the names “Obama” or “Netanyahu” or even the words “Jewish” or “Israel” in Google News today, you’ll get a hundred versions of the same Associated Press story: “Obama, Netanyahu: Bad blood between key allies.” It’s a pre-inauguration, pre-election special, intended to forge a consensus in the U.S. public opinion about President Obama’s next four years: he’s going to have trouble from the Republican Congress and he’s going to clash with the Israeli prime minister to be:

“President Barack Obama heads into his second term weighed down by an American government snarled in partisan gridlock, but also by an unproductive relationship with the leader of Israel, the bedrock U.S. ally in the tumultuous Middle East.”

“It’s the greatest dysfunction between leaders that I’ve seen in my 40 years in watching and participating,” Aaron David Miller, who served under six secretaries of state in both Republican and Democratic administrations, and was “deeply involved in negotiations involving Israel, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinians,” told the AP.

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“I don’t think we are headed for a showdown,” Miller added, “but the relationship will continue to be dysfunctional.”

Just the other day, writing for the LA Times, Miller said the Jewish attacks on Sen. Chuck Hagel, Obama’s man for Defense, lacked credibility. He wrote:

“Jews worry for a living. Their dark history and, in the case of American Jews, their legitimate concerns about the security of the State of Israel impel them to do so. But sometimes those concerns are overblown and reflect a kind of collective cosmic oy vey that gets in the way of sound and rational judgment.”

Then he says that, despite serious disagreements between the White House and Israel on the Palestinians and on Iran, “chances are if the Obama administration wants to manage the Iranian nuclear issue and the peace process too, it’s going to find a way to work with — not run over — the next Israeli government.”

He’s right, of course, and what he describes is anything but the dysfunctional relationship he talked about to the AP. In his own op-ed, Miller describes two heads of state who strongly disagree on two key points, but he, Miller, has no doubt they would find a modus vivendi.

So where’s the “bad blood”?

Netanyahu likely will win re-election on Jan. 22, two days after Obama is sworn in for a second term, goes the AP story.

Then: “Netanyahu is a hardliner on making peace with the Palestinians, a goal that Obama said was foremost on his foreign policy agenda at the beginning of his first term.”

With which Palestinians? President Abbas who has been refusing to attend negotiations with Israel even during the period of settlement freeze, early in the Netanyahu term? Or the Hamas, which has been actively murdering Israelis, and swearing to some day take back the entire country?

How, out of everyone involved, did Netanyahu end up with the “hardliner” branding?

Then there’s that annoying thing Netanyahu has been doing, “pressing Washington to adopt policy specifics that would trigger a military strike if Iran does not pull back on its nuclear program – widely believed to be aimed at building an atomic bomb.”

And Sen. Chuck Hagel. Although Netanyahu’s office refused comment on Hagel when contacted by The Associated Press in Jerusalem. But Reuven Rivlin, parliament speaker and member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, told AP that Israelis are worried because of Hagel’s “statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel.”

And that constitutes “bad blood”?

When in doubt, Ori Nir, a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now, was at the ready to refute the “talk of anti-Semitism,” which in Hagel’s case, he said, “is unjust and over-the-top.”

Possibly. And a long lineup of mainstream Jewish leaders have said just that throughout last week. Didn’t need to bring Peace Now in as an authority on these things…

The bad blood between Obama and Netanyahu began early, continues the AP story:

“In their first public appearance together at the White House in 2009, Netanyahu pointedly rebuffed Obama’s call for Israel to stop building Jewish housing on land the Palestinians want in a future state.” Obama dropped the issue after it became obvious that it was a waste of political capital at home and that Netanyahu would not budge.

Here’s a link to the Obama/Netanyahu press conference of May 18, 2009. Do find the part where Netanyahu pointedly rebuffs the president. It’s a very long and, generally friendly discourse, so take your time. Somewhere in the middle, Netanyahu says:

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: We’ve had extraordinarily friendly and constructive talks here today, and I’m very grateful to the President for that. We want to move peace forward, and we want to ward off the great threats.

But the AP is still searching for bad blood, and so they extended the paragraph above with: “Netanyahu’s government has continued to announce plans for new settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.”

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8 COMMENTS

  1. A rather simplistic analysis of the relationship between Israel and the US. The 2 heads of state may stand for symbols of the realstionship but there is great resentment between the citizens of both countries besides anti-isemitism in various levels of the American population. Why is this a surprise? An Israeli friend of mine told me he won't travel until he finds a place that likes Jews, That includes Israel. I told him to try the moon. Don't y'all get it yet? It's been 6000 years already.

  2. NETANYAHU JUST HAS TO SIT TIGHT AND LET THE PLO AND HAMAS JOIN AND THEN WE HAVE A 50/50 NAZI REGIME WHICH NO ISRAELI WILL TALK TO AND THE U S AND THE E U WILL MAY NO LONGER GIVE ISRAEL THE BUSINESS.
    I THINK NETANYAHU WILL WELCOME SOMEONE LIKE HAGEL AND MAKE SOME USE.
    OF HIS REPUTATION…HE WILL BE CLOSELY WATCHED AND HE MAY BE BETTER FOR ISRAEL SINCE HE MAY TRY TO MAKE NICE EVEN NICER THAN PAST DEFENCE SECRETARIES…..THE ONLY WAY FOR HAGEL TO NOT BE IN THE CABINET IF FOR SOME OF THOSE LIBERAL DEMOCRATIC SENATORS TO SHOW SOME B—S.
    AND VOTE AGAINST HIM…AND IF HE IS…JEWS WHO MAKE WORRYING INTO A SOCIAL SPORT…WILL JUST HAVE ONE MORE THING TO WORRY ABOUT.

  3. There IS a source for the "bad blood" allegations: Partisans in the US and Israel who are trying to gain partisan points whether it harms the US-Israel relationship or not. Of course Obama and Netanyahu disagree on some things. All nine US Presidents starting in 1967 have disagreed with all ten Israeli Prime Ministers since 1967 on settlements, for example, yet the partisans (and their friends in the partisan media) make like this is something new!

  4. Charlie Hall, you are no match against the author of that link, Francisco Gil-White is an anthropologist who was Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and lecturer at the Solomon Asch Centre for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict. All of his facts are documented. I dare you to dispute his evidence.

  5. Charlie Hall, Dr. Gil-White has presented nothing but documented facts that even the CIA was not able to disclaim. How do we know this? Dr. Gil-White's boss worked for the CIA and was also the director of his department at the Univ. of Penn. His boss didn't want Dr. Gil-White to teach his students this information and also wanted him to cease from this type of research which goes to show you that American education is not so liberal as one might think. In fact, Obama has edited all government public documents, publications and educational materials to exclude the words “Islamic Jihad terror” so that this will not be taught to Americans anymore. However, Charlie, you don’t have to worry about this because judging from your talk backs, you’ve already accomplished this purging of truth from your memory banks. I am anxious to read and forward to Dr. Gil-White your “rebut” Charlie of Dr. Gil-White’s research for in hard times like now, we all need a good hard laugh.

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