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Source: Behind Closed Doors Panetta Called Israel Ungrateful, ‘Chazerai’


Secretary Panetta (L) and Minister Barak in front of an Iron Dome rocket defense shield battery outside Ashkelon in southern Israel last Wednesday.

Secretary Panetta (L) and Minister Barak in front of an Iron Dome rocket defense shield battery outside Ashkelon in southern Israel last Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Tsafrir Abayov/Flash90

Despite the commonly accepted view that the meetings of U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak, and President Shimon Peres, were generally positive, in private conversations Panetta expressed frustration at the lack of confidence expressed by Netanyahu and Barak regarding the American commitment to stopping the Iranian nuclear program, Maariv reports. An Israeli source told the paper that the Americans believe Israel is being ungrateful. The source even used the term “Chazerai”—which in colloquial Hebrew means selfishness—to describe Netanyahu’s and Barak’s attitude in light of unwavering U.S. support for Israel’s security.

Panetta’s visit to Israel was intended to enhance the image of the Obama Administration’s unquestionable supports for Israel without question. This is how political circles interpreted Panetta’s decision to create a photo-op next to an Iron Dome battery near Ashkelon, just north of the Gaza Strip.

But before Ashkelon, Panetta met on Wednesday with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who lectured him on the futility of diplomacy, sanctions and “tough” statements which to date have not caused the Iranians nuclear program to budge. The PM also reiterated that the time to resolve the issue peacefully is running out.

“Iran is the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism, and we must do everything to prevent Iran—the world’s most dangerous regime—from developing the world’s most dangerous weapons,” went Netanyahu’s lesson on the urgent need for a military option. “Today the Iranian regime believes that the international community does not have the will to stop its nuclear program. This has to change, and it must change quickly, since the time to resolve the issue through peaceful means is running out.”

Standing by the Iron Dome battery, it actually appeared as if Panetta had internalized the gist of the lecture, begrudgingly or otherwise. “The most severe sanctions imposed on Iran ever are now,” Panetta told reporters. “Iran supports the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and other terrorist elements. We have a strong commitment to Israel’s security. Pressure on Iran will continue, but the military option is on the table if diplomacy fails.”

At which point it was Defense Minister Barak’s turn to lecture his U.S. counterpart on the advantages of military force over diplomacy. Barak told the reporters—with Panetta listening—that Israel’s leadership is pessimistic about the possibility that Iran would abandon its nuclear ambitions following the sanctions. “The possibility that the ayatollahs will sit around the table and decide to give up their nuclear option is very low,” Barak explained his government’s position.

Then Barak delivered his punch line: “Israel must make decisions on this matter, and the U.S. Administration understands it.”

It turns out, according to Maariv, that while Panetta, the trained diplomat, is good at concealing his true reactions to being schooled so openly by two Israeli leaders, he was quite expressive in private about their arrogance.

For the record, however, the explosive term “Chazerai” was used by Maariv’s source to represent an equivalent English term used by Panetta, whose parents immigrated from Calabria, Italy, and probably did not speak much Yiddish at home.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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11 Responses to “Source: Behind Closed Doors Panetta Called Israel Ungrateful, ‘Chazerai’”

  1. Muriel Coudurier-Curveur says:

    Ungrateful? Because we refuse to be hoodwinked as we've been since 1973 by our ally? Ungrateful? For receiving less US help -with more drastic conditions- than our Arab neighbors? Ungrateful? Because we're a bit tired of being the one and only recipient of all criticism about the stillborn peace process? Ungrateful? Because, if Pollard hadn't voluntarily transmitted to Israel information the State Department was abusively sitting on (in spite of official treaty terms), Israel would be no more? Ungrateful? Because the poor man is still being punished for correcting this American betrayal? Come on. Israel may be puny compared to the USA, but Israel gives to the US more than it receives.

  2. the military option is on the table if diplomacy fails.”.

    Not " we will respond militarily if diplomacy fails".

    Translated into Persian this means the US will continue to do nothing and Iran can go ahead with it's nuclear 911 strike.

  3. Please do not paint all Americans with the same brush. The current regime in Washington was elected on false pretenses with a more than willing major media propaganda machine working hand in claw with them. Many of us support you and hope to show that support in November by throwing these communist Muslims out. Assuming we have honest elections that is, if not there may be other ways to do it.

  4. I hope that Romney's trip to Israel increased his support among Evangelical Christians and other Pro-Israel Americans, for if Moses was the Republican candidate and Jimmy Carter was again the Democratic candidate, the majority of American Jews would still vote for Jimmy Carter.

  5. Mildred Bilt says:

    Chazerai in Yiddish is junk or useless stuff. The transformation in Hebrew to selfishness is confusing. Also don't know why someone of Italian roots raised as a Catholic would be expected to have any Yiddush spoken in his home. This all pertains to your last paragraph which you might want to delete. Makes no sense. I would also appreciate knowing the actual term Panetta used without any lopsided translation into Hebrew/Yiddish. I'm very brave and smart and I can deal with the information.

  6. Anonymous says:

    My concern about a military strike against Iran is that it will release a huge amount of radioactive material into the atmosphere. Someone please explain to me how Israel can bomb Iran's nuclear facilities without creating another Fukushima.

  7. ephraimshalom says:

    “…[T]he image of Obama’s unquestionable support for Israel without question [...]” is exactly the point – and Obama’s problem: one of “image,” which has rightly faded vis-a-vis in the opinions of increasing numbers of American voters. Panetta appears unaware of even recent events impacting U.S. – Israel relations in an election year, e.g.:
    - 05 Jul 12: The Obama Administration’s explicit approval of an anti-Israel “briefing” at the United Nations (see http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/157534#.UBwNWY4mXOE )
    - 29 Jul 12: U.S. sees Israel as No. 1 spy threat in Middle East, (CIA) officials say (see http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_21182746/u-s-sees-israel-no-1-spy-threat )
    - 31 Jul 12: The Obama administration’s idiotic response vis-a-vis recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (see http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=279577 )
    “Ungrateful?” Leon, with friends like you and Obama,…well, you know the old saying.

  8. Anya Khan says:

    Preach on lil brother

  9. Anya Khan says:

    probablly can't but is a Fukushima in iran better than a Hiroshima in Israel?

  10. Tex Guest says:

    PIG-NETTA IS JUST SPYING AROUND, ALL THE WHILE DOWNPLAYING THE IRANIAN THREAT…..HUSSEIN OBAMA SUGGEST MORE DIPLOMACY, BACK WITH SANCTIONS…GIVE ME A BREAK! THE U.S. NEEDS TO LISTEN TO ISRAEL AND TAKE NOTES…..THEY COULD LEARN A LOT! BUT HUSSEIN OBAMA HAS TO APPEASE HIS "BROTHERHOOD"…..THEY'RE HIS FIRST PRIORITY!

  11. Charlie Hall says:

    Why do we give so much credibility to anonymous sources?

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