White House spokesman: Obama told Netanyahu during their phone call that he objects to his "divisive" election tactics

The “divisive” tactic he’s alluding to is the one the left’s been whining about for three days, i.e. Netanyahu warning Likud voters on election day that turnout among Arab voters was high thanks in part to left-wing groups busing them to the polls. Supposedly that was Bibi’s version of a “southern strategy,” never mind whether it was actually true, never mind that he did nothing to try to prevent Israeli Arabs from voting, never mind that his administration has made strides in integrating the country’s Arab citizens economically. Liberals like whining about his “southern strategy” because it’s a way for them to delegitimize his huge win and the stinging rebuke to Obama that it implies. And Obama likes whining about it because it’s a fig leaf for him to play hardball with Netanyahu and Israel at the UN. Surely he can’t be expected to partner with a man who’d stoop to that, should we? This is the same guy, mind you, who tried to hold back the giant GOP midterm wave in 2010 by arguing out of his ass that shady foreigners were indirectly bankrolling the Republican Party via secret donations to the Chamber of Commerce. Not 24 hours after the Israeli vote, his pal Dick Durbin was on the floor of the Senate claiming that Republican opposition to Loretta Lynch on amnesty grounds was actually secretly motivated by Jim Crow racial attitudes. How the fark did Netanyahu not hang up on him in disgust at the hypocrisy? Or did he?

Just to make this extra cynical, here’s how White House Democrats are already gaming out the coming cold war with Israel for 2016. On the one hand, they want to punish Netanyahu; on the other hand, they need to keep pro-Israel Democrats happy. What’s a party to do? How about a game of good cop/bad cop with the presumptive Democratic nominee?

Administration officials don’t expect anything to happen at the UN until the Iran negotiations, which may themselves require Security Council action, play out. But Obama staffers know they must act in 2015 to avoid undermining Hillary Clinton in an election year. They’re not sure an Obama-Bibi confrontation hurts her anyway. The worse relations between the White House and Israel get, one administration official suggests, the more Hillary can appease the American Jewish establishment by running to Obama’s right, and promising to repair the rift. Administration allies suggest that if there is a UN resolution laying out parameters for a final status deal, it will come this summer or fall.

Obama can spend the next year wrecking the country’s relationship with Israel in pursuit of a quixotic peace deal, splitting Democrats and deepening the rift over Iran, because Hillary’s going to promise to put it all back together again. Good thing we don’t have a divisive leader like Israel does.

I want to know: Has Obama ever — ever — scolded a foreign leader about the manner in which he won an election during a “congratulatory” phone call? He routinely phones scumbags like Putin and Hassan Rouhani after their “victories,” ignoring the fact that those elections are rigged because it would complicate U.S. diplomatic business to dwell on it. But when it comes to Netanyahu drumming up right-wing turnout by warning — not incorrectly — that high turnout among Israeli Arabs would have meant fewer seats in the Knesset for Likud, he’s so troubled that he can’t resist raising the issue during what’s supposed to be a goodwill gesture. Exit question: What was more “divisive,” what Netanyahu said or this? July 30, 2008: “[T]he only way they figure they’re going to win this election is if they make you scared of me. So what they’re saying is, ‘Well, we know we’re not very good but you can’t risk electing Obama. You know, he’s new, he’s… doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency, you know, he’s got a, he’s got a funny name.’” What an A-hole.

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David Strom 6:41 PM on January 26, 2023