web analytics
September 24, 2014 / 29 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Pundits, Politicos Still Parsing Sarkozy-Obama Exchange On Bibi


Meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris.

Meeting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with President Nicholas Sarkozy in Paris.
Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom GPO

WASHINGTON – Does Nicolas Sarkozy really hate Benjamin Netanyahu? Does President Obama really sympathize?
And does it really matter?

The fleeting, private exchange between the French and U.S. presidents at a summit in Cannes, France, made international headlines, and its meaning is still being parsed by political pundits and pro-Israel activists.

The Anti-Defamation League was the only major centrist Jewish group to publicly rebuke Obama for the Nov. 3 exchange, which was overheard by several journalists at the G-20 summit who were plugged into a listening device monitoring the leaders that was switched on a few minutes early.

“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy reportedly said – no one recorded the exchange – and Obama supposedly replied, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day.

The ADL called the exchange “un-presidential.”

“President Obama’s response to Mr. Sarkozy implies that he agrees with the French leader,” the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said in his Nov. 8 statement. “In light of the revelations here, we hope that the Obama administration will do everything it can to reassure Israel that the relationship remains on a sure footing and to reinvigorate the trust between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which clearly is not what it should be.”

The ADL’s broadside surprised others among mainstream pro-Israel groups who thought the issue was best dealt with as the conversation was meant to be – privately. One source reported hearing a top official at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee quipping, “Obama and Bibi talk every day? This is great news!”

Foxman told JTA that his organization’s policy is to respond to press inquiries, and in this case they were plentiful.

“We got a lot of calls asking for comment,” he said. “There is a certain threshold of calls, and this was one of those situations.”

Foxman said he recognized that leaders sometimes let down their guard.

“Listen, I would love to know what Obama thinks about Sarkozy,” he said, referring to U.S. frustration with the French leader’s tendency to go it alone diplomatically.

Foxman added, however, that relationships are important.

“There’s no question, attitude informs policy,” he said. “It doesn’t overwhelm, but it does inform.”

Steve Rosen, a former AIPAC foreign policy director, said the exchange was revealing but its significance should not be overstated. Sarkozy is famous for his cutting remarks about other leaders, Rosen said.

“This is Sarkozy’s habit and form of expression,” he said.

Foxman, for his part, said he was disappointed that Obama “didn’t dissuade Sarkozy, didn’t disabuse him.”

But pro-Israel Democrats close to Obama said that a stirring rebuke from one president to another might play well on TV’s “The West Wing,” but that it tends not to happen in real life.

“What you have is a one-sentence reaction to something Sarkozy says, which is a translation of a translation,” said one top Jewish donor, noting that French journalists transcribed a conversation in English into French, and then it was re-translated in American news reports. “Sometimes it has an exclamation point, sometimes not – don’t put words into the president’s mouth!”

The donor also said that it was unfair to indict Obama absent a recording.

“We haven’t heard the tone of his voice,” the donor said.

Obama’s defenders also noted that in the same exchange, the U.S. president was taking his French counterpart to task for supporting full Palestinian membership at UNESCO, the UN’s cultural and scientific affiliate. Obama reportedly told Sarkozy that he “didn’t appreciate” Sarkozy’s failure to consult on the issue, but added “that is now behind us.”

“Whether Obama’s sympathetic response to Sarkozy’s complaint was genuine or merely a sympathetic nod to build rapport hardly matters,” Seth Chalmers, the assistant director at New York University’s Berman Jewish Policy Archive, wrote in a blog post. “In either case, our President’s message was that, irrespective of the Israeli Prime Minister’s personality, Israel’s preferred course of negotiations rather than unilateral UN recognition of Palestinian statehood is correct.”

When queried in Hawaii by a reporter about the exchange, Obama sounded a similar note.

While the U.S. leader said he would not comment on “conversations that I have with individual leaders,” he then added, “The primary conversation I had with President Sarkozy in that meeting revolved around my significant disappointment that France had voted in favor of the Palestinians joining UNESCO.”

But Republicans said the exchange was further evidence that Obama was abandoning Israel.

“At a moment when the Jewish state is isolated and under threat, we cannot have an American president who is disdainful of our special relationship with Israel,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a leading contender for the 2012 presidential nod, said in a statement.

Obama would not be the first American president with whom Netanyahu has clashed. During his first term in office, Netanyahu had a rocky relationship with Bill Clinton. Even Netanyahu’s most prominent defender in Obama’s circle, longtime U.S. Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, who announced last week that he would be leaving the White House, has noted the challenges of working with the Israeli leader.

Aside from its implications for American-Israeli relations, the Obama-Sarkozy exchange also highlighted the strained relations that some European leaders who are otherwise considered relatively sympathetic to Israel have with Netanyahu. Sarkozy himself once was considered friendly with Netanyahu, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly clashed earlier this year with the Israeli prime minister over settlement construction and the stalled peace process.

But Netanyahu’s defenders say it is unfair to blame the Israeli leader for the moribund state of the peace process. The Washington Post’s Op-Ed editor, Jackson Diehl, said the bigger problem has been the recalcitrance by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Netanyahu has been an occasionally difficult but ultimately cooperative partner,” Diehl wrote, noting Netanyahu’s embrace of a two-state solution and his partial settlement freeze.

He added that “Abbas, it’s fair to say, has gone from resisting U.S. and French diplomacy to actively seeking to undermine it. Yet it is Netanyahu whom Sarkozy finds ‘unbearable,’ and whom Obama groans at having to ‘deal with every day.’ If there is an explanation for this, it must be personal; in substance, it makes little sense.”

(JTA)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Pundits, Politicos Still Parsing Sarkozy-Obama Exchange On Bibi”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.
New York City Site of Huge Rally Against Met’s Klinghoffer Opera
Latest News Stories
soldiers[1]

Here is your chance to show your appreciation to the IDF!

NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.

Thousands of people protested outside of the Metropolitan Opera for staging an anti-Semitic opera.

Immigration to Israel this year was up 28% compared to the previous year. An estimated total of 24,800 new immigrants arrived to Israel throughout the course of the year.

Yamam Hebron Shootout

The YAMAM counter terrorist unit killed the 2 terrorists. This is part of that video.

The two were traveling on stolen Israeli passports, and had changed the photos to their own.

The renewed ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas ended peacefully for the day.

“In the Middle East today, there is one country where Christianity is not only not persecuted, but affectionately granted freedom of expression, freedom of worship and security. It is Israel, the Jewish State. “

ISIS has launched a global campaign to encourage Muslims to murder non-Muslims.

A French citizen is abducted and his life is now threatened by an ISIS group in Algeria.

“What we are seeing here in New York today is not an artistic expression that challenges the limits of morality, but a moral deformity that challenges the limits of the art.

Dr. Boaz Ganor, co-founder and executive director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel, calls Hamas and Hizbullah “hybrid” terrorist organizations.

A travel terror attack was foiled Tuesday on a road near Ashdod thanks to the alert eyes of the Israeli public and police.

Four Arab teens are indicted in connection with Sept. 7 attack on French Hill gas station.

PM Netanyahu has sent out his Rosh HaShana greeting to Jews around the world.

The IDF shot down a Syrian fighter jet that infiltrated Israeli air space, using a Patriot missile.

More Articles from Ron Kampeas

It’s not yet clear if Nemmouche was acting on orders and, if so, whether the orders came from ISIS.

Capital-Bldg-091214

“The Jewish community is going to have to work harder,” said one veteran official who has worked both as a professional in the Jewish community and a staffer for a Jewish lawmaker.

President Obama in an April 25 press conference seemed ready to take a break. “There may come a point at which there just needs to be a pause and both sides need to look at the alternatives,” he said.

Obama himself suggested that a break from the process may be necessary.

But Israel’s stance is not sufficiently consequential to set off a fight between friends, neoconservative scholars said.

Tensions between Russia and the West are mounting over the Russian military takeover of the Crimean Peninsula, with the United States and European countries threatening to impose sanctions.

Expansive outreach, of course, is nothing new for AIPAC. But in the wake of battles over Iran sanctions legislation that pitted the pro-Israel lobbying powerhouse against the White House, many congressional Democrats and liberals more generally, AIPAC’s traditional emphasis on Israel as a bipartisan issue has taken on added urgency.

Administration officials and Jewish groups sympathetic to Kerry’s initiative say there is a longer-term agenda in preempting attacks on the framework peace agreement the Obama administration is expected to propose soon.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/pundits-politicos-still-parsing-sarkozy-obama-exchange-on-bibi/2011/11/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: