Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 6:56 AM

Netanyahu Is a ‘Chickenshit’ Prime Minister!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Meet the Press - Season 67Jeffrey Goldberg is the critically acclaimed correspondent for The Atlantic, America’s top news and ideas magazine.

His October 28 report, “The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relationship Is Officially Here,” set political and media tongues a wagging from Washington to Jerusalem and all points in between. And nothing in his report caused more wagging than Goldberg quoting a White House official dissing Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit” prime minister:

‘The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,’ the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. ‘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 got no nuts.’

Netanyahu obama israelSuch is Goldberg’s reputation, however, that nobody questioned the credibility of his reporting. Instead, the viral meme it spawned focused on the open and mutual contempt the Obama and Netanyahu administrations have developed for each other. Most notably, Janet Daley, the equally acclaimed correspondent for The Telegraph, lamented (on Saturday’s edition of the BBC’s Dateline London) that his reporting exposes a “new low” between these two notoriously dysfunctional allies.

Except that Goldberg’s purportedly groundbreaking report broke no new ground. Frankly, heralding an official crisis in the relationship between the United States and Israel is rather like heralding an official crisis in the marriage between Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Like the Clintons’, crises have dogged the relationship between the United States and Israel from day one. And the causes have had as much to do with American contempt for Israeli arrogance as with Israeli contempt for American ignorance.

The only reason Goldberg’s report seemed so insightful and controversial is that, like that of teenage girls, the memory of most people in politics and the media these days is limited to the latest viral tweet (or selfie). After all, the “crisis in U.S.-Israel relationship” became so grave 24 years ago that – far from some anonymous adviser privately dissing the Israeli prime minister – no less a person than the then U.S. secretary of state, James Baker, publicly threatened outright divorce.

Here is how I referenced that “official” crisis four years ago, when yet another one erupted over Israel undermining U.S. efforts to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians by building yet more settlements in the disputed territories:

It might be instructive to recall that [Israel’s] unbridled contempt for America’s efforts to broker Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations provoked [James Baker] way back in 1990 – as secretary of state under former President George H.W. Bush – to issue the following iconic reprimand during congressional testimony:

‘Everybody over there should know that the telephone number for the White House is (202) 456-1414. When you’re serious about peace, call us!’

And to back up his words, Baker threatened to withhold loan guarantees unless Israel promised not to use the funds to settle Russian Jews in the (Palestinian) West Bank. Not so widely reported, however, was the undiplomatic language he used in a less formal setting a couple of years later, when Baker reportedly said, ‘Fuck the Jews; they don’t vote for us anyway.’

(“Israel Talks about Settlements the Way Iran Talks about Nuclear Weapons,” The iPINIONS Journal, March 15, 2010)

Clearly, if that crisis 24 years ago did not cause any material change in the patently dysfunctional relationship between the United States and Israel, nothing will.

1524589152The fact is that these two countries are wedded by what Obama himself has often vowed is an “unbreakable bond.” A bond, incidentally, that has as much to do with evangelical support for Israel in the United States, despite any president’s warranted frustrations, as it has to do with existential appreciation for the United States in Israel, despite any prime minister’s unwarranted impudence.

More to the point, though, this bond explains why Israel continually behaves like a trophy wife who knows that she has a rich and powerful husband who will not only give her anything she wants, but be there for her no matter how often she disappoints, or even betrays, him. This, in a nutshell, explains the nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

netanyahu_bombAs for Goldberg’s celebrated report, here is why I hope I can be forgiven for thinking that his main points about the breakdown in relations between the Obama and Netanyahu administrations seem the result more of plagiarism than reporting, especially with respect to his “scoop” about Netanyahu being a chickenshit:

The chutzpah of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu never ceases to amaze me…

I am simply stupefied by the way he has been publicly goading Obama – almost from day one of his presidency – to stop Iran [from developing nuclear weapons] before it enters some amorphous ‘zone of immunity’ (presumably where North Korea resides)…

All of his talk about red lines and red lights is just a red herring. If Netanyahu wanted to attack Iran today, nobody would stop him.

Except that this arrogant SOB would rather sit on his moral high-horse (playing the Holocaust card) and declaim falsely about Obama dictating when and how he should act to defend Israel’s national security interests. All the while he’s presuming to dictate to Obama when and how he should act to defend America’s national security interests with respect to Iran: talk about brass ones…

It is noteworthy that Netanyahu is being supported in his rhetorical misadventure by the same coalition of crusading dunces (namely, Jewish Zionists, Christian fundamentalists, and new-world-order neo-cons) who goaded Bush into attacking Iraq. Not to mention that they have all been issuing Chicken-Little warnings about Iran being just months away from going nuclear since the 1990s….

(“Obama Dissing Israeli PM Netanyahu?” The iPINIONS Journal, September 12, 2012)

On the other hand, having a prominent American Jew like Goldberg reporting so favorably on Obama’s efforts to broker peace between the Israelis and Palestinians is bound to cause a crisis of leadership for Netanyahu. Not least because the irrefutable takeaway from his report is that Netanyahu is a petty-minded political coward – who’d rather pander to right-wing nuts (in Israel and the United States) than take the bold steps necessary to make peace.

Sure enough, even his die-hard supporters are beginning to have second thoughts about Netanyahu’s leadership:

An editorial in the leading American Jewish newspaper should be read by Prime Minister Netanyahu as a serious warning…

A lead editorial in The New York Jewish Week, the flagship American Jewish newspaper, center to center-right in orientation, with many thousands of Orthodox Jews among its readers and an ardently pro-Israel editorial line, bluntly asks whether the Israeli government has become unmoored from reality.

(The Atlantic, October 31, 2014)

imagesWhat’s more, I readily concede that Goldberg reporting on Netanyahu as a chickenshit will probably do far more to put this Israeli prime minister’s Texas-size ego in check than my commenting on him as a Chicken Little.

But I trust I’ve vindicated my assertion that there is nothing groundbreaking in Goldberg’s report. Especially given that I’m also on record – in many other commentaries like “Netanyahu, Obama’s Iago; Iran, His Desdemona,” October 2, 2013 – delineating why White House officials have just cause to dismiss Netanyahu as a chickenshit.

Enough said?

Except that I’m mindful, even if Goldberg is not, that the public humiliation inherent in prominent people dismissing him as a chickenshit might provoke a “man” like Netanyahu to take rash action to prove his manhood. I suspect, however, that his imperious ego makes Netanyahu immune to public humiliation. Indeed, the fabled concept of “the emperor wears no clothes” probably suits him just fine.

Related commentaries:
Israel talks about settlements
Obama dissing Israeli PM
Obama’s Iago

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