Politico, ever eager to paint Barack Obama in a positive light, has an article about the supposed thaw in relations between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Politico delights in Netanyahu’s weakness and Obama’s strength as Obama is visiting Israel. In the piece, every quote Politico uses is from someone who is from the Left and is genuinely hostile to the Israeli Right and Netanyahu’s often-hawkish policies, with the exception of Elliot Abrams, a deputy national security under President George W. Bush. This scenario enables the “thaw” in relations between the two men to be portrayed as a concession to Obama by Netanyahu because of Obama’s security in his position and Netanyahu’s newfound fragility because of his weakened coalition.
You can tell Politico’s on the attack against Netanyahu from the opening line: “Benjamin Netanyahu has never been Barack Obama’s biggest fan — and for four years, he’s eagerly scored political points picking fights with the president.”
After four of the frostiest years in over six decades of U.S.-Israel relations, the two leaders are taking pains to send friendlier signals — in part because Obama will be around for another four years, in part because centrist and left-leaning parties in Israel unexpectedly elbowed their way into Netanyahu’s hawkish coalition during elections in January.
Politico quoted Netanyahu saying, “For this, you need, you see, a second term as president and a third term as prime minister. That really fixes things … People should get to know President Obama the way I’ve gotten to know him.”
Then we get the litany of Leftist commentators:
Martin Indyk, Bill Clinton’s ambassador to Israel: “Netanyahu has been able to get a bump every time he says no to the president. When he upbraided him in the Oval Office, he got a 10 percent rise in the Israeli public opinion. That is unheard of …Netanyahu, [who] eats polls for breakfast, he knows very well what the standing of the president is and what his own standing is.” Indyk continued that there is now a “very careful, very sensitive, very praiseworthy” Netanyahu, whose poll numbers will rise “the public doesn’t like the idea that their prime minister doesn’t have a good relationship with the president.”
Former State Department official Aaron David Miller, who said in 2012, “There’s a growing concern -- more than a concern -- that the Israelis, in order to protect themselves, might launch a strike without approval, warning or even foreknowledge,” implying Israel does not have the right as a sovereign state to defend itself, blubbered, “Obama’s got the most dysfunctional relationship with any Israeli prime minister in the history of the U.S.-Israeli relationship. Benjamin Netanyahu bears an enormous amount of responsibility for that.”
Politico even went back in time to quote the former head of the Kadima party, Shaul Mofaz, saying, “Israeli meddling in internal U.S. affairs and turning the U.S. administration from an ally to ‘an enemy’ has caused us severe damage. Please explain to us: who is Israel’s greatest enemy — the U.S. or Iran? Who do you fear more — [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad or Obama? Which regime is more important to overthrow — the one in Washington, or in Tehran?”
Oh, and don’t forget leftist Brookings; Natan Sachs, a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy there, was quoted, too:
Every time Netanyahu starts a new government or some kind of new thing happens, we talk about now he’s seen the light and there will be something new and he will move and he wants his legacy. The best guide for Netanyahu’s foreign policy in the next few years, as long as this coalition lasts, is his foreign policy in his first two terms, which was, shall we say, not in line with the way President Obama sees the Palestinian issue.
Politico is only too gleeful to report that a recent Jerusalem Post poll showed Obama’s approval numbers up 22 percent since 2009, when Netanyahu and Obama argued about Iran. Of course, Obama’s approval numbers then were only 4%, and are now only 26%, but don’t tell Politico Obama is still heartily disliked in Israel; it’s all got to be Netanyahu’s fault.