Good politics here, both domestically and internationally, in taking the high road in l’affaire chickensh*t. There’s no sense getting angry and fighting publicly with Obama: Netanyahu has to live with him for two more years no matter how nasty the White House leaks get and Israel won’t profit from Bibi forcing American Democrats to take sides in a squabble between him and The One. Meanwhile, Bibi himself won’t profit if Israeli voters worry that he’s helping to make a deepening rift with the U.S. even deeper, especially if it’s true that Netanyahu’s thinking of calling Knesset elections sooner rather than later. The obvious play is to appeal to Israeli patriotism by framing the criticism of him as criticism of his determination to defend Israeli interests while also emphasizing that the bond with Americans is unbreakable. That’s exactly what you see here.
It’s a politic statement, as required by his position. Not all Israeli ministers are similarly bound, though. Here’s economic minister Naftali Bennett lowering the boom on Facebook:
Israel is stronger than all of its defamers.
The Prime Minister of Israel is not a private person. He is the leader of the Jewish State and the entire Jewish people. Cursing the prime minister and calling him names is an insult not just to him but to the millions of Israeli citizens and Jews across the globe.
The leader of Syria who slaughtered 150,000 people was not awarded the name “chickenshit”. Neither was the leader of Saudi Arabia who stones women and homosexuals or the leader of Iran who murders freedom protestors.
If what appears in the press is true, then it seems that the current US administration is throwing Israel under the bus.
Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East and has been fighting 66 years to survive. Israel is at the forefront of the free world’s fight against the Islamic terror of ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran. Instead of attacking Israel and putting it at risk, the world should be strengthening and supporting it.
I call on the US administration to immediately reject these gross comments.
I’ve seen that point made repeatedly today, that Netanyahu seems to elicit a level of irritated exasperation from “senior U.S. officials” that our many embarrassing Muslim allies never do. Right at this moment, U.S. servicemen are bombing ISIS degenerates in Iraq and Syria because our friends in the region, who have more to lose as ISIS gains, are too incompetent or too chickensh*t to do it themselves. Said Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, “It is rather ironic that a senior American official is prepared to curse his friends, yet when it comes to the mortal enemies of the United States – as the Iranians discovered during the recent nuclear negotiation – praise is heaped on them.” It’s Netanyahu, though, who’s more of an immediate obstacle to Obama’s and Kerry’s quixotic peace process by refusing to block settlements in east Jerusalem so naturally it’s Netanyahu who earns the most colorful scorn, not our new partners in peace in Tehran.
Speaking of which, there’s probably a strategic angle to all of this too:
Sr. Israeli official: 'Chickenshit' remark is effort to 'preempt' Netanyahu's criticism 'of imminent and highly problematic deal with Iran.'
— Herb Keinon (@HerbKeinon) October 29, 2014
Right. Obama’s going to make a terrible deal with Khamenei on nukes, Netanyahu’s going to say “this deal is terrible,” and now the White House can dismiss the criticism as grumblings from a fickle, uncooperative ally (who, by the way, heeded the U.S. in not attacking Iran) whose pride has been hurt by the “chickensh*t” stuff.
Exit question: Any guesses on who it was, exactly, who fed Jeffery Goldberg the already legendary line? The Weekly Standard asked the Office of the Vice President if it was Joe Biden, someone whom Goldberg’s interviewed before and just the sort of loudmouthed oaf who’d use a word like “chickensh*t” in the course of sensitive international diplomacy. No reply. They also asked the State Department if it was John Kerry, arguably the cabinet member whose relations with Netanyahu are the most strained. No reply from them either. Hmmmm.