To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
For a brief moment last week, the world got to peek behind the diplomatic curtains and catch a glimpse of what the American and French presidents really think of Israel’s prime minister.
It was not a pretty sight.
In remarks unintentionally overheard by a gaggle of journalists at the G20 summit in Cannes, Nicolas Sarkozy insulted Benjamin Netanyahu, telling Barack Obama that “I can’t stand to see him anymore, he’s a liar.”
And just how did Obama respond to this slur against the leader of America’s closest friend and ally in the Middle East?
By essentially agreeing with Sarkozy, of course. “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day,” Obama moaned.
The conversation was transmitted to members of the press after the microphones in the presidential meeting room had been turned on inadvertently. Mon dieu!
This bad-mannered blunder made international headlines and proved to be a major embarrassment to both Obama and Sarkozy.
It is not every day that we get to hear what politicians really think without handlers, spinmeisters and advisers crafting their choice of words.
Interestingly, White House spokesman Jay Carney pointedly did not deny the remarks attributed to Obama, in effect signaling that the accounts in the press were accurate.
Recognizing the damage that had been done, Sarkozy moved quickly to mitigate the impact of the affair. Over the weekend he reportedly sent a personal letter to Netanyahu in which he took a firm stand on Iran’s nuclear ambitions and signed it, in his own hand, “with friendship.”
And according to a report in the French newspaper Le Figaro, Sarkozy has tentatively agreed to pay a special visit to the Jewish state in January.
Like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar, the French leader is now trying to “make nice.”
But these gestures will not obscure the unvarnished truth: the open microphone revealed some rather sealed minds.
At its root, Sarkozy and Obama’s hostility to Netanyahu has little to do with the latter’s veracity or genuineness, and everything to do with his entirely justifiable skepticism regarding the peace process.
By refusing to capitulate to pressure to make still more concessions to the Palestinians, Netanyahu has run afoul of the French and American presidents, who apparently have trouble accepting the fact that Israel has the right to pursue its own interests as it best understands them.
It does not seem to matter to them one whit that Netanyahu has offered to relaunch direct bilateral talks without preconditions, and that it is Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas who refuses to return to the negotiating table or even to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
The mere fact that Netanyahu does not agree to return to the pre-1967 borders with minor adjustments is enough to set them off.
Sarkozy and Obama are so fixated on appeasing the Palestinians, and are so close-minded about what they see as the need to establish a Palestinian state, that they find dealing with Netanyahu to be a burden.
Rather than expressing a measure of support for the leader of a fellow democracy, the French and American presidents decided to turn policy disagreements into personal attacks.
They would much rather have a more pliable Israeli counterpart, one willing to toss aside Israel’s vital security needs as well as its historical, moral and religious rights, for the sake of international acclaim and applause.
But their candor reveals far more about them than it does regarding the Israeli premier.
It shows, particularly in Obama’s case, that for all the public posturing and talk about standing with Israel, the president is no close friend of the Jewish state.
Obama and Sarkozy are both increasingly unpopular at home and face uncertain prospects at the ballot box next year. When they began their terms of office, they generated high hopes, most of which have disintegrated into disappointment.
Given their unbridled cynicism and contemptuous treatment of a close ally, this should come as no surprise.
After all, people know a phony when they see one. Even when the microphones are turned off.
Michael Freund is chairman of Shavei Israel (www.shavei.org), which assists lost tribes and hidden Jewish communities to return to the Jewish people. His Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the third week of each month.
About the Author: Michael Freund is the Founder and Chairman of Shavei Israel. He writes a syndicated column and feature stories for the Jerusalem Post, Israel’s leading English-language daily, and he previously served as Deputy Director of Communications & Policy Planning in the Prime Minister’s Office under Benjamin Netanyahu. A native of New York, he holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a BA from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
My son is seventeen; he didn’t want to talk about what happened, or give any details of the Rosh Yeshiva’s words of chizuk.
All involved in the Ferguson debate should learn the laws pertinent to non-Jews: the Noahide Laws.
Prominent Jewish leaders acknowledged that their predecessors had mistreated the Bergson Group.
Hamas’s love for death tried to have as many Palestinian civilians killed as possible
Israel recognizes the fabrication called a Palestinian nation; So what do we want from the Swedes?
Arab attacking Jews in the land date back a century, long before Israel was created or in control.
Creativity without clarity is not sufficient for writing. I am eternally thankful to Hashem for his gift to me.
Golden presents a compelling saga of poor but determined immigrants who fled pogroms and harsh conditions in their homelands for a better life in a land of opportunity.
It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”
Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.
Unfortunately, at present, the rabbinate does not play a positive role in preventing abuse.
Speaking in his native German, Schulz used the opportunity to blast Israel.
Ever since he vanished, the American government had repeatedly asserted that Levinson was a private businessman — his own safety.
For the second time in the past three months, Israel on Sunday declared its intention to build over 1,000 housing units in areas beyond the 1967 lines.
Nearly seven decades since the end of World War II, Poland is once again turning on its Jews.
In a stunning move last week, the lower house of the Polish parliament rejected a bill that would have restored the legality of shechita, or kosher slaughter, by a vote of 222 to 178.
Last Friday, the Western Wall underwent an unwelcome transformation from sacred site to media circus as the group known as the Women of the Wall sought to hold a decidedly non-traditional prayer service.
The state of Israel this week turned 65, defying history and the odds to celebrate its continued existence in a very dangerous part of the world.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/fundamentally-freund/open-microphones-sealed-minds/2011/11/17/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: