NEW YORK — Barack Obama was so radical in his views about Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emerged shellshocked, ashen faced and traumatized after his first White House meeting with the newly-elected president in May 2009, according to an adviser who was present.
The detail was contained in an extensive New York Times Magazine story titled “The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran.” The story says it is based on accounts with “dozens of current and former American, Israeli and European officials,” including many top officials cited on the record such as Netanyahu himself.
One section cites Uzi Arad, a former top Netanyahu adviser, describing the scene after Netanyahu emerged from his first private Oval Office meeting with Obama. The section also quotes Netanyahu confirming that Obama “adopted most of the Palestinian narrative.”
The Times reported:
During their first meeting in the White House in May 2009, anxious aides waited outside the Oval Office as the two leaders met alone. It was an interminable meeting, and some may have figured that the savvy, experienced Israeli prime minister was lecturing the young American president about the Palestinians and the hard truths of Israeli security.
But when the door opened, it was Netanyahu who appeared shellshocked, Arad recalls: “Bibi did not say anything, but he looked ashen.” It was hours later when he told aides that Obama had attacked him and implored him — actually demanded him, in Netanyahu’s view — to freeze Israel’s settlements in the West Bank right away, with “not a single brick” added in the future, according to an Israeli official with direct knowledge of the meeting. “Bibi left that place traumatized,” Arad says.
Speaking now, Netanyahu says that “Obama came from another direction, one that adopted most of the Palestinian narrative,” and ruefully cites the “not a single brick” line to argue that the American president was against him from the very beginning. (A former Obama-administration official with knowledge of the White House meeting says that Obama did not in fact use that phrase.)
It is instrumental that the ex-Obama official only denied using the “not a single brick” phrase in relation to Israeli settlements but did not deny that the former president, as Netanyahu put it, “adopted most of the Palestinian narrative.” Nor did the ex-Obama official deny the description of Obama using the meeting to demand a complete halt to all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, which houses historic Jewish communities.
After their meeting, it was widely reported that Obama pressed for a total halt to Jewish construction in the West Bank.
“The demand for a total stop to building is not something that can be justified and I don’t think that anyone here at this table accepts it,” Netanyahu was quoted as telling his cabinet one week after the Oval Office meeting.
Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.
Joshua Klein contributed research to this article.