Elliot Abrams and local neoconservatives to Israeli public: Obama intends to topple Netanyahu
In a Tuesday (March 16 2010) interview with the Jerusalem Post, the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Foxman took criticism of the US administration’s handling of the current confrontation to a new frontier
Israel should immediately battle a charge emerging in the US that its actions are endangering the lives of US soldiers, because it is a particularly “pernicious” argument that “smacks of blaming the Jews for everything.”
Later in the in the article we learn that the purveyor of this blood libel is no other than Vice President Biden himself
US Vice President Joe Biden was quoted by Yediot Aharonot last week as telling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in an angry exchange over the Ramat Shlomo incident, that “this is starting to get dangerous for us. What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Biden was quoted as saying. “That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”
Petraeus and the CENTCOM top brass, however, are the authors
On Saturday, the Foreign Policy magazine Web site ran a story saying that the commander of the US Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus, sent a briefing team to the Pentagon at the beginning of the year “with a stark warning: America’s relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America’s soldiers.”
This conflation of criticism of Israeli policies with “blaming the Jews,” is dangerous. Think of the position of the family of a US soldier in Afghanistan. They could, quite reasonably, believe both Petraeus’ anlaysis and Foxman’s assertion of its implications. Making them patriotically “anti-Semitic.”
Hopefully, mainstream Jewish-Americans have already realized that they need to curb Foxman’s recklessness and it is referenced here for a different reason: as a prelude to an account of what appears to be a coordinated and aggressive anti-Obama campaign in the Israeli media aimed at the Israeli public.
For an Israeli media consumer, Tuesday morning appeared as the launch of a focused messaging campaign: The crisis was engineered by Obama to subvert Israeli democracy and topple Netanyahu.
A prominent Jewish-American neoconservative, Elliot Abrams, led the charge in an IDF Radio interview [full transcript and link to recording below].
The administration was very hostile to the Netanyahu government. They were hostile before he did anything. So the argument you can make is that they really don’t like dealing with the Netanyahu government and that they want to see if they can get rid of it and bring down the coalition.
In parallel, the front page of Yisrael Hayom, Sheldon Adelson’s Netanyahu fanzine ran two aggressive articles by Israeli neoconservatives.
Under the headline “Facing the international left,” Yaacov Amidror, a retired Israeli General and now a program director at Netanyahu confidant Dore Gold’s Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, asserted (full translated text here)
The administration chiefs, as well as New York and Tel Aviv reporters — those who do not like the fact that a right-wing government was elected in Israel against their will — are trying to seize the opportunity of the regrettable mistake to drive Israel to its knees. The State of Israel, its government, and it citizens must not crack under this pressure, applied by the international left that is exploiting the mistake Israel made to besmirch and exert unfair pressure on it.
Facing Amidror’s op-ed was another by Dror Idar, Yisrael Hayom’s deputy editor and a fellow at the The Jewish Statesmanship Center for Strategic Planning entitled “Obama’s mistake” (full translated text here)
According to senior government members, the basic assumption when dealing with the crisis is that we are looking a series of premeditated events that are meant to replace the Israeli Government with one that would be more “convenient” for Obama.
Readers of the three items not another underlying message: Obama picked the wrong battle with Netanyahu. The Israeli public will rise up to support him as he singlehandedly defends Jerusalem against the foreign usurper.
Morning Newsmagazine, IDF Radio, March 16 2010 07:11 [Click here to listen to recording]
Micha Friedman: Elliot Abrams is a name that hasn’t been in the news for some months, because the man, a key figure in the George W. Bush Jr. administration, hasn’t been in the news since the administration went over to the Democrats headed by Obama. Abrams, a warm Jew, who is involved up to his ears in the Israeli-Palesitnian conflict, gave an interview today to Bar Shem Or, our foreign affairs correspondent, and says some particularly harsh things about his president, Barack Obama. Good morning to Bar Shem Or.
Bar Shem Or: Hello Micha, good morning. Senior officials in Washington continue to attack Benjamin Netanyahu. The liberal media justified the White House’s actions, but this morning we are bringing you different voices from America. We held a special interview with Elliot Abrams, who played key roles during the Bush administration and is considered a foreign relations expert. He is also very close to the former president. Among other things Abrams served as the deputy national security adviser. He was responsible for the Middle East. He is a conservative Republican and has a lot of resentment towards the current president and his advisors, and he is a Jew. This morning he tells us the crisis between Israel and America was not created by Netanyahu’s decisions but only by Barack Obama.Elliott Abrams [English]: The Obama administration is to blame for creating this crisis. There was no real reason for it. If it continues it will turn into a strategic mistake because it will really harm the relationship between the United States and Israel.
BSO [Hebrew]: Blame for creating the crisis is all the Obama administration’s, says Abrams. Obama had no real reason to create it. Therefore if this crisis continues, it will be a strategic mistake that harms the US-Israel relationship. We asked Abrams why he thinks Obama decided to create this crisis, and here is his very surprising answer:
Elliott Abrams [English]: The administration was very hostile to the Netanyahu government. They were hostile before he did anything. So what argument you can make is that they really don’t like dealing with the Netanyahu government and that they want to see if they can get rid of it and bring down the coalition.
BSO [Hebrew]: The Obama administration was hostile to Netanyahu from the beginning, even before Netanyahu had done anything. Therefore the theory I can think of, says Abrams, is that the Obama administration simply does not like, and does not want to deal with Netanyahu, and therefore it is trying to get rid of him and to bring down his right-wing coalition. Beyond political considerations, Abrams claims that the current situation harms the peace process and toughens the Palestinians’ positions.Elliott Abrams: If the White House is saying, ‘this is terrible, this is a crisis,’ of course the Palestinians are going to say the same thing. It’s very bad for the possibility of negotiations because it means the Palestinians will demand more and more preconditions.
BSO [Hebrew]: If the White House claims that building new housing units in East Jerusoing to say the same thing. The latest admonitions by senior White House officials harm the negotiations because they actually make the Palestinians climb up higher trees and demand more preconditions. Abrams claims that during the Bush administration the term “preconditions” did not exist in the lexicon of the negotiation process. But that whole approach was invented by the current administration, and here is a very interesting point that Abrams brings up from the past, which can even be called a kind of full disclosure. When I worked in the White House, Abrams tells us, we knew that we must not demand Israel freeze construction in East Jerusalem.
Elliott Abrams [English]: The notion that a government of Israel was going to agree that there would not be any additional construction by Israelis in Jerusalem, I think is completely unrealistic, which is why we never demanded that. We understood that it was the nation’s capital, so the notion that you would impose a construction ban on…
BSO [Hebrew]: We in the Bush administration understood that the notion that the government of Israel would agree to stop building in East Jerusalem was unrealistic, which is why we never demanded that. The Bush administration understood that it is the capital of Israel and therefore the idea to impose a construction ban in the capital, to impose that decision only on Jews, was not realistic. We asked Abrams whether he foresees a deterioration of relations. He answers us that this is going to be a very difficult year. He has one last message that he wants to convey to the current administration:
Elliott Abrams [English]: History suggests that Israel is much more flexible when it feels the most secure. What the Obama administration is doing is making Israel feel less secure.
BSO [Hebrew]: History has shown that Israel acts more flexibly when it feels secure. The Obama administration is making Israel feel less secure. This will definitely not help bring peace to the region. That was a special interview this morning with Elliot Abrams, a former senior Bush administration official.
Micha Friedman: And since the current crisis between Israel and the US has a historic dimension, as our ambassador to the US Michael Oren told us, let’s go a little further back to the Bush Senior administration, which was the lowest point in the relations between the two countries, surely in the last 20 years. Reevaluation, cancellation of loan guarantees, the American pressure that forced Prime Minister Shamir to go to the Madrid conference against his will. Thank you, Bar.