During Wednesday’s White House press briefing Fox New’s Ed Henry made a valiant effort to find out why the Obama Administration wasn’t trying to discover which secret “senior official” was behind the now-famous leak to Jeffrey Goldberg calling Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a “chickensh*t.”
My question going back to the Israel story is, why then are you kind of sloughing off this idea that you kind don’t care who leaked that story that insulted of the prime minister of Israel? You have gone after reporters again and again in this administration to find out who leaked information to them. And then when it comes to insulting the prime minister, you don’t seem to care who leaked it.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest danced around the question.
Henry should know the answer. The reason the administration isn’t looking for the leaker is they know exactly where it came from, President Obama. It may not have passed from the President’s mouth to Goldberg’s ears, but Barack Obama was the puppeteer whose strings controlled the mouth that spoke to Goldberg.
Make no mistake, the Goldberg story was meant as a message to Netanyahu. The White House may have walked it back a tad, but only because the message wasn’t meant for the U.S. public or the mainstream media — it was meant for Israel.
You see, Barack Obama does not like Benjamin Netanyahu and it’s personal. Our thin-skinned President doesn’t like anyone who disagrees with him. Bibi not only disagreed with him but he proved Obama wrong from the very beginning.
Obama doesn’t understand why administration pressure isn’t working for him as it had with other Presidents. When Yitzhak Shamir fought with George H.W Bush, his government fell and he was voted out of office. The same thing happened during Bibi’s first term as Premier. When he didn’t give Bill Clinton the concessions he wanted Netanyahu’s coalition failed and he was booted from office. Obama is angry that he couldn’t do the same to the Netanyahu government.
But Obama doesn’t understand what happened to Israel since U.S. presidents helped to force those PMs out of office. Those government changes brought the failed Oslo peace efforts, which brought the second intifada, the withdrawal from Lebanon that brought the war with Hezbollah, and eventually the withdrawal from Gaza under Ariel Sharon that brought three wars with Hamas.
Obama misjudged Israel from Day One. What the president and his advisers perceived as a minor concession, a settlement freeze, was not perceived by Israel the same way. This was a major error by the administration.
As part of his early settlement demand, Obama informed the Israeli government that written assurances given to it by the Bush Administration about U.S. policy, given in response to prior Israeli concessions, were no longer in effect. One of those assurances was that Israel could expand existing settlements in Judea and Samaria and could build new ones in Jerusalem. The settlement demand was a lesson from Obama that assurances from American governments have a very short expiration date. Their insistence on a freeze and the constant public berating of the Jewish State turned the Israeli population against Obama at the beginning of his administration, especially the Israeli “left” who a U.S. president would look to for support.
Then came the Obama Cairo speech in 2009. There, Obama spoke of the Holocaust as a reason for the Jewish State, echoing the anti-Israel narrative that Jews had no historic right to the land, but were only given a state because of European guilt. He repeated that claim when he visited Buchenwald on his way back home from Cairo, where he said, “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history” that culminated in the Shoah.
It also didn’t go unnoticed that Obama went from Cairo to Germany and purposely avoided Israel.
There were other early actions that alienated the Israeli public. During his first week of office, Obama sat down with Al-Arabiya TV, ignored Palestinian terrorism, and indicated that the Israeli government had no desire for peace. During the second month of his first term, his Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, demanded that Israel open border crossings to terrorists.
Each of these early actions generated more support for Netanyahu and mistrust for Obama from the Israeli public. Each convinced the Israeli public that their country should stand up to the American president, and each time Israel stood up to Obama, he gew angrier that his will wasn’t being obeyed and that Israeli voters weren’t abandoning their Prime Minister.
This cycle — Obama throwing Israel and Netanyahu under the bus, generating more Israeli support for Bibi instead of damaging his coalition — continues today. Just look at Israel’s objections to Obama’s negotiations with Iran and his criticism of Operation Protective Edge, where Israel and Egypt blocked the U.S. from leading the ceasefire negotiations.
In his Atlantic article, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote that Netanyahu has “written off” the Obama administration. He is only partly correct. The majority of Israeli citizens have “written off” the Obama administration, and with good reason.
On the third day of his administration, Obama met with Congressional leaders to discuss the proposed stimulus plan. When Eric Cantor raised objections to some of the items the President said, “I won. So I think on that one, I trump you.” It was a warning to the GOP that he did not want to negotiate — that he expected to be obeyed. And because the party didn’t obey, he has been badmouthing them to the American people and the world ever since.
The same thing happened with Israel. At the beginning of his administration, Obama’s actions were a signal that he must be obeyed. But the Prime Minister wouldn’t kneel down to his demands, and the Israeli people wouldn’t oust the Premier. This thin-skinned President does not react well to being disobeyed. That more than anything caused the anger driving Obama to call Netanyahu a “chickensh*t.”
Cross-posted at The Lid