Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
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.
Charges from the court of world public opinion and their refutations.
It is up to our government to ensure that their sacrifices were not made for short-term gains.
Supporting Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has become dangerous in Malmo.
Regional pro-US Arab countries rely on Israel as a deterrence to rogue Islamic regimes.
He has always supported the underdog, once even quite literally, legislating a law that prohibits the abandonment of pets.
Temech is about providing a community – a place where religious women can learn, collaborate and refresh themselves with like-minded people.
Netanyahu has decided that the lives of Israeli are more important than looking good for Obama, U.N. and the NY Times.
Many Jews join the Israel-haters with their progressive ideology and politically correct obsessions.
“The will to triumph is a prerequisite for victory.” Abba Kovner
How can you run away from Israel and all the things that have shaped your life?
“Am HaNetzach Eino Mefached Mi Derech Aruka” (An eternal people doesn’t fear the long journey).
Isn’t it comforting to know that our God loves life, grants life, and promises eternal life?
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: