by Joseph Klein
It has been evident for some time that President Obama intensely dislikes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then again, Obama does not have much use for Israel altogether.
The latest example occurred during an unscripted moment when microphones were accidentally left on after a G-20 press conference in Cannes last week had concluded. They picked up a private conversation between Obama and French President Nicholas Sarkozy exchanging bitter words about Netanyahu.
Sarkozy went first. He said, “I cannot stand him. He is a liar.”
Obama couldn’t help himself. He tried to outdo Sarkozy in expressing his displeasure with Netanyahu. “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day,” Obama replied spontaneously without his usual teleprompter to guide him.
Reporters heard the two leaders’ childish insults because the microphones were inadvertently still operating. They were asked afterwards not to disclose what they heard, and many of the journalists went along with the gag request. Fortunately, there are at least a few honest journalists who don’t much like government censorship of a legitimate news story.
France had just voted in favor of the Palestinians’ full membership in UNESCO. It also has reportedly decided to abstain, rather than vote no, when the Security Council takes up consideration of the Palestinian bid for full UN membership.
The United States voted no in UNESCO. It will, if necessary, also veto any Security Council resolution recommending full state membership for the Palestinians in the entire UN system. Obama knows that to do otherwise would cost him dearly in next year’s presidential election amongst Jewish voters whom would normally be in his corner.
However, we all know what Obama really thinks. This is a president who has gone out of his way to visit Muslim countries in the same region as Israel, but has yet to visit Israel itself since taking office. Obama had no trouble bowing to the Saudi king, while insulting the Israeli prime minister at every turn.
Obama’s latest blast at Netanyahu recalls his snub of Netanyahu during the prime minister’s first visit to the Obama White House in March 2010. Obama presented Netanyahu with a list of demands, including a halt to all settlement construction in East Jerusalem. When Netanyahu resisted Obama’s charms, Obama picked up his marbles. He stormed out of the meeting and declared, “I’m going to the residential wing to have dinner with Michelle and the girls.” Obama also refused the normal protocol of a joint photograph with the Israeli leader.
“There is no humiliation exercise that the Americans did not try on the prime minister and his entourage,” Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported on the treatment of the leader of our closest ally and only genuine democracy in the Middle East. “Bibi received in the White House the treatment reserved for the president of Equatorial Guinea.”A little more than a year later, on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit to Washington to address a joint session of Congress, Obama tried to upstage him by proposing that Israel, without receiving any meaningful concession in return, offer to start negotiations based on Israel’s shrinking back to the indefensible pre-1967 lines with some unspecified minor mutual land swaps. Once again, Netanyahu would not play along with Obama’s shenanigans. During a joint news conference, Netanyahu was the grown-up in the room and delivered a candid, strongly worded rebuke to Obama’s demand for Israeli concessions that left Obama squirming:
This is something that we want to have accomplished. Israel wants peace. I want peace. What we all want is a peace that will be genuine, that will hold, that will endure. And I think that the — we both agree that a peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle Eastern reality, and that the only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakeable facts.
I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines — because these lines are indefensible…Remember that, before 1967, Israel was all of nine miles wide. It was half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars, because the attack on Israel was so attractive.
After pointing out that Palestinian President Abbas was making negotiations more difficult by announcing his intention to form a unity government with Hamas, which he called the “Palestinian version of al Qaeda,” Netanyahu discussed the Palestinians’ insistence on the right of return of millions of Palestinian refugees to pre-1967 Israel. “Now, 63 years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say to Israel, accept the grandchildren, really, and the great grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out Israel’s future as a Jewish state,” said Netanyahu. “I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly it’s not going to happen.”
Obama and Sarkozy do not like dealing with uncomfortable truths when it comes to defining what it will really take to reach a genuine, secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Sarkozy calls Netanyahu a “liar” for telling the truth, and Obama complains that he has to listen to the unvarnished truth from Netanyahu “every day.”
But, as the saying goes, know the truth and the truth shall set you free. Here are four fundamental and undeniable truths for Obama and Sarkozy to consider:
- The truth about the risks for peace Israel has already taken to no avail, as jihadist terrorists launch waves of rockets from Gaza aimed at killing innocent Israeli civilians including children.
- The truth about Hamas, with whom the more “moderate” Abbas wants to form a unity government.
- The truth about the Palestinians’ denial of Israel’s basic right to exist as the only Jewish state in the world – a policy of rejectionism that led directly to the Palestinians’ present stateless condition and which their leaders continue to propound today.
- The truth about the Palestinians’ insistence on the “right of return,” which is intended to destroy the Jewish character of whatever remains of Israel after reaching agreement with the Palestinians on borders. On this point, Obama should face the truth that his demand that Israel essentially return to the pre-1967 lines, while not simultaneously insisting to the Palestinians that they take the “right of return” of millions of Palestinian refugees to pre-1967 Israel off the table for good, is self-contradictory at best.
As Prime Minister Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly in his September 23rd speech, “I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes.” Whether or not they “cannot stand” Netanyahu, it’s time for Obama, Sarkozy and other world leaders to stop whitewashing the truth.
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