The flap over an Obama administration official’s obscene reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not going away, especially given the administration’s total lack of interest in identifying the senior official who spoke in that manner, giving an adequate apology or actually condemning the comment (as opposed to calling it “counterproductive”).
As bad as the insult was, worse was the official’s mocking of Netanyahu for not “[pulling] the trigger” and boasting “now it’s too late” for Israel to attack Iran. The comment is both wrong (Israel is fully capable of acting, as are the Sunni states) and can only give comfort to the mullahs, for whom the only deterrent may well be an Israeli strike. (As an aside, some time ago I had a cordial debate with Jeffrey Goldberg arguing that Obama would never act militarily against Iran; he insisted Obama would. His interview with the unnamed official unfortunately proved him to have been horribly wrong.) Read more at The Washington Post.
The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.
This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it’s ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program. Read more at The Atlantic.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that he will not be deterred from “defending Israel” by personal attacks, in response to a report that quoted an anonymous US official calling him a “chickens**t.”
“I was personally attacked purely because I defend Israel, and despite all the attacks against me, I will continue to defend our country, I will continue to defend the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu told the Knesset.
The prime minister added that he remained confident that the current disagreements between the US and Israel would not affect the two countries’ “deep connection.” The Times of Israel.
Very publicly, very nastily, and very worryingly, we are witnessing the collapse of an alliance.
Not between the United States and Israel — the ties run too deep, and the common interests (if not necessarily the common values) are abiding. But between their current leaderships, the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government.
Each regards the other as arrogant, incompetent, wrongheaded and ill-intentioned.
And here’s what’s new: Neither much cares anymore about hiding it. A fracturing partnership has given way to open conflict. Read more at The Times of Israel.