By Nadav Eyal
After Benjamin Netanyahu got himself (and Israel) so deeply involved in the U.S. election — including the warm embrace he gave Mitt Romney in Jerusalem and the huge contributions raised by his very important associate Sheldon Adelson — the White House’s calculated response has arrived.
Translated By Danielle Morris
16 January 2013
Edited by Lauren Gerken
Israel - Maariv - Original Article (Hebrew)
Following the nomination of Chuck Hagel as the U.S. secretary of state, a crazy speculation has emerged in Israel, stating that the sole purpose of this nomination was to take revenge on Benjamin Netanyahu. Only here can people seriously believe that the nomination of one of Barack Obama’s most important cabinet ministers was carried out with the intention of harming the Israeli Prime Minister, and not, for example, as a measure to reduce the Pentagon’s inflated budget.
This, however, does not mean that the U.S. president does not know how to retaliate. After Benjamin Netanyahu got himself (and Israel) so deeply involved in the U.S. election — including the warm embrace he gave Mitt Romney in Jerusalem and the huge contributions raised by his very important associate Sheldon Adelson — the White House’s calculated response has arrived. This kind of retaliation is not carried out by nominations or through transparent, hot tempered statements. This behavior, mind you, is more suited to the Middle East.
Washington uses convoluted yet clear ways of expressing its views; using quotes from off-the-record conversations is one of the classic methods. So here, a week before the Israeli elections, several Obama quotes are making their way to Jeffrey Goldberg — one of America’s most important columnists, considered to be the Israeli/Jewish case holder.
According to my count, there is only one set of quotation marks in the sentence “Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are.” In this interview, Obama is discussing the Israeli settlements. But Obama’s opinions regarding Netanyahu are poignant. The U.S. president believes that Benjamin Netanyahu is leading Israel into total international isolation and if, as a small nation, it becomes a pariah state which has even alienated the U.S., it will not survive. These are harsh words. Equally harsh was the phrase Goldberg used to describe the way Obama sees Netanyahu: “A political coward.”
These words were not chosen by chance; they are the inverted mirror image of Netanyahu’s campaign. Netanyahu uses his speech in Washington and the White House responds: You are distancing yourself from America. The Likud Beitenu election campaign speaks of a powerful leader. Obama speaks of a coward.
In Israel, the focus will obviously be on the personal relations between Obama and Netanyahu, and the unpleasant way in which the puddle of bad blood between them is growing. This is a waste of time. Obama is already addressing the Israeli public. He is sending out a resounding warning.
Of course, there will be politicians, columnists and patriots who will puff out their chests and tell Obama to stay out of it. They’ll say he doesn’t understand Israeli interests, etc. As nice and heartwarming as this is may be for them, they shouldn’t forget we are talking about the U.S. president here, in his second term and after a landslide victory in the election. This is the country that has provided us with security and civilian support, the country that announced a veto in our favor at the UN Security Council. Its president, says Goldberg, has never wavered on this point — if Israel does not stop getting involved in the lives of Palestinians living in the West Bank, it will be considered an apartheid state.
The continuing disregard of Israel’s growing isolation from the world, the neglect of the political issues in favor of spur of the moment political parties and the collective burying of heads in the sand — these all have a price. Obama’s warning can be rejected or condemned, but it should not be ignored.
The writer is the channel 10 foreign news editor.
CLICK HERE FOR