Introduction — Oct 29, 2014
Why have comments from a White House official bad-mouthing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu been leaked to the press? Senior Obama Administration officials have already disassociated the administration from the derisory comments, some of which are downright insulting.
However, one can’t help but wonder at the timing. The comments come amid mounting speculation about some sort of rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. Note that thus far this has only been journalistic speculation; but coupled with the comments reported below one can’t help but wonder if this isn’t all part of a political stage play. The intention being to make us think that there is a growing chill in relations between Washington and Tel Aviv.
The fact that the comments, allegedly made by an anonymous White House official, were reported by Jeffrey Goldberg should make us suspicious. A former Israeli prison guard, who described guarding the “future leaders of Palestine” as “exciting” and “hopelessly exotic”, Goldberg later went on to deny he ever worked as an Israeli prison guard.
From that, you get the measure of the man.
No surprise then that in the wake of 9/11 he was one of the leading cheerleaders for the Iraq invasion. Months before the invasion took place he is on record as writing:
“In five years . . . I believe that the coming invasion of Iraq will be remembered as an act of profound morality.”
While in 2012 he took part in a smear campaign initiated by AIPAC against critics of Israeli policy.
He even reportedly runs a Beltway neocon Torah study group that includes ex-AIPAC officials.
All of which should raise serious questions about the authenticity of the reported comments, and the intention behind the leak.
White House to Haaretz: ‘Chickenshit’ jibe against Netanyahu inappropriate, counterproductive
Barak Ravid — Haaretz Oct 29, 2014
The White House on Wednesday disassociated itself from a remark made by U.S. official calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickenshit,” in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrery Goldberg published on Tuesday.
Alistair Baskey, Deputy Spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council told Haaretz that the official’s quotes against Netanyahu did not represent the Obama administration’s views.
“We think such comments are inappropriate and counter-productive,” said Baskey. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and the president have forged an effective partnership, and consult closely and frequently, including earlier this month when the president hosted the Prime Minister in the Oval Office.”
U.S. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said during Wednesday’s daily briefing that the statements about Netanyahu in The Atlantic came from anonymous sources, and that “President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry don’t see them as accurate or appropriate.”
According to Psaki, such statements are “not productive and not constructive,” and the sources who gave interviews to The Atlantic did so without authorization. “If this issue comes up we will make sure it is clear it’s not reflective of the secretary’s views,” she said, adding that “when the secretary speaks next to Netanyahu, he will make cleat it is not our view.”
Netanyahu’s office responded to the remarks, the latest in the ongoing crisis in U.S.-relations, by saying that, “Netanyahu will continue to uphold the security interests of Israel and the historical rights of the Jewish people in Jerusalem, and no amount of pressure will change that,” Netanyahu’s office said in response to the remark,
Netanyahu himself said that he was under attack by “anonymous” critics simply because he was defending Israel and its national security interests, but stressed that he “cherished” Israel’s alliance with the United States despite the arguments.
The unnamed official in the article was quoted as saying, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.” According to Goldberg, the Obama administration official said that Netanyahu frustrates the White House and the U.S. State Department the most.
“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”
Another senior U.S. official told Goldberg that unlike the situation from 2010 to 2012, the White House no longer believes that Netanyahu will launch a preemptive strike on Iran to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“It’s too late for him to do anything,” the official said. “Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”
Meanwhile, the National Jewish Democratic Council expressed “surprise and disappointment at the profane and inappropriate language” attributed to an Obama administration official, adding that “cooperation between the two countries has never been stronger.”