The Deteriorating Relationship Between Israel and the Obama Administration

None of this is especially shocking, considering the antagonism the administration has shown toward the Jewish state from the start.


The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg has written a piece detailing the deteriorating relationship between Israel and the Obama administration. The chief purpose of Goldberg's piece is to humiliate Benjamin Netanyahu. None of this is especially shocking, considering the antagonism the administration has shown toward the Jewish state from the start.

Most people have focused on the name-calling, and Goldberg keeps a list of pejoratives used by U.S. officials to describe Netanyahu, including "aspergery." On that front, it's worth noting that the person repeatedly being called "chickens--t" by anonymous officials volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces, saw combat, and was the leader of an elite special forces unit deployed on numerous missions—including the freeing of a hijacked Sabena flight in 1972, where he was shot. Granted, this may not be so courageous as hopping the Amtrak from Delaware to D.C. each day or rallying the troops at a fundraiser in Greenwich, Connecticut, but God knows we can't all be heroes.

Is Netanyahu a political coward? Perhaps. But not for any of the reasons offered by the administration. Is he arrogant? I'm sure he is. Is being anti-Netanyahu tantamount to being anti-Israel? Well, no. Although, it's certainly fair to point out that the administration's public demeaning of an ally's elected leader—almost certainly with the blessing of higher-ups—is nearly unheard of.

But you know what is unmistakably anti-Israel? Gloating over how the United States has strong-armed Israel into living with a nuclear Iran, which seems like significant news to me. Here's what Goldberg had to say:

The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. 'It's too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it's too late.'       

At the United Nations a few years ago, President Barack Obama reportedly offered to do whatever it would take to prevent Iran from producing atomic weapons in exchange for Israeli assurances that it would not attack Iran's nuclear sites before the presidential election in 2012. (And to think, Obama officials have the audacity to whine about Netanyahu's "near-pathological desire for career-preservation.") One side has kept its promise. Obama has repeatedly vowed, since his first run for president, to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Maybe that's a promise that never should have been made. Now, though, the administration claims it's too late. Now it claims American pressure helped dissuade Israel from defending itself. And now there is nothing Israel can do about it.

Knowing this, why anyone would expect Israel to trust Secretary of State John Kerry or Obama to forge a peace deal with a Fatah-Hamas unity government is a mystery.

So what happens next? Well, considering his access, when Goldberg "imagines" what's coming, I imagine someone in the know told him what to imagine. So if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asks for recognition of Palestine in the United Nations, as he's expected to do again, the United States will likely block the initiative in the Security Council. But as Goldberg notes, the Obama administration may also participate in a "stridently anti-settlement resolution" that would isolate Israel from the international community and pressure it to create a Judenfrei West Bank and an indefensible Jerusalem.

It must be very frustrating to believe that a nation acts in its own best interests rather than the interests of an American political party. Despite Netanyahu's assurances that he wouldn't mess with the president's 2012 campaign, it is he, out of all the leaders in all the world, who frustrates Obama most. Not Russian autocrats who invade sovereign nations. Not genocidal Arab dictators. Netanyahu. I forget which sycophantic liberal pundit pointed out on Twitter that this makes sense because we're prone to be frustrated more by our friends than by our enemies. For that to be true, one would have to accept the dubious notion that the president ever considered Israel a "friend" in any special sense.

Is there any other friend treated similarly? Trust me; you're never going to hear a senior State Department official refer to Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as a chickens--t theocrat. In fact, when the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, both friends of ours in the Middle East, were justifiably called out by Vice President Joe Biden for their roles in helping to strengthen the Islamic State, Biden was quickly dispatched to ask for forgiveness from both the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Apologize to the leader of Turkey. Call the leader of Israel a coward. That about encapsulates American foreign policy during the past few years.

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  1. The really stupid part is that even if Netanyahu lost an election to a more left-leaning opponent, it is unlikely that Israels foreign policy would change significantly. They might be cozier with the Obama crowd due to shared hatred of capitalism, but Israeli Labor leaders have traditionally been no less adamant about protecting Israel than Netanyahu.

    1. Rabin did put Israel through the whole Oslo debacle though.

    2. as long as the Arabs keep demanding the "right of return" there will never be a peace treaty.

      1. As intended.

  2. We can't forget that Obama and his administration are steeped in progressivism. Progressives, for the larger part, hate Israel. That's merely shining through with this administration.

    1. Hate is a bit strong. Perhaps they just don't share the right's obsession with the country. Going from from fawning to aloof, might appear like hate in relative terms, but its just being aloof.

      1. No it's obviously not just being aloof. Aloof people don't call each other names like 'chickenshit'.

        1. Sorry, but this hearsay of some 'senior official' doesn't represent the totality of our country's relationship with Israel. Like no US official ever called Churchill a drunk?

          1. "Like no US official ever called Churchill a drunk?"

            I think the difference here is the 'leakage'.

  3. Couldn't you just cross out "Israel" and insert any number of nations in its place? Who do we get along with better now that "smart diplomacy" and reset are being employed?

    1. Indeed. And to think that in 2008, people touted Obama as the foreign policy savior.

      At least Putin genuinely liked Bush.

    2. France? Maybe?

      1. France definitely. It's Barry ideal endpoint (well, with a little more redistribution thrown in).

        1. Whoopeedoo. France.

    3. *Who do we get along with better now that "smart diplomacy" and reset are being employed?*


    4. Well, if you remember when Obama and Hilary made an apology video for pakistanis, explaining how we'd love to execute the Blasphemers who made Innocence of Muslims, but that this Damned Constitution was always getting in their way...? well they were so gratified by this that Obama is now one of the most popular US presidents *ever* in Pakistan = Pictures of him and Obama costumes are now best-sellers

  4. The sooner the US stops being so cozy with Israel, the better off everybody is. Israel will not be able to act so brazenly and hopefully cooler heads can prevail on both sides of the West Bank, etc. to bring forth a peaceful two-state solution.

    1. a peaceful two-state solution

      Pat Condell, what say you?

      1. "Israel has never initiated violence against any of its neighbors."

        That is not a credible statement. You can claim that the 6 Day War was inevitable and preemption was really self-defense, but without a doubt the Israelis started hostilities.

        1. I believe a blockade by Egypt was the start of hostilities.

          1. I don't recall Israel being an initiator. I don't think their first order of business was to shit disturb soon after 1948. From the get-go they were antagonized in the region.

    2. To be honest, I'm not sure the U.S. hasn't had a moderating influence on Israel, rather than the opposite. Israel already has the military capability to do pretty much whatever it wants there.

      I'm all for not being so involved in Middle Eastern affairs, but I don't think Israel acts more aggressively because of the U.S.

    3. srael will not be able to act so brazenly

      AHAHAHAHAHAHA you don't even know what 'brazen' is. I can't wait for Israel to show us.

      two-state solution.

      Been there, 1948 did that.

    4. "The sooner the US stops being so cozy with Israel, the better off everybody is. Israel will not be able to act so brazenly and hopefully cooler heads can prevail on both sides of the West Bank, etc. to bring forth a peaceful two-state solution."

      Please tell me you are joking.

      Judea and Sumaria (West bank) are occupied by the enemies of the state of Israel, who's stated objective is the anihilation of Israel and the Jewish people. So I guess now defending your nation from the imminent threat of anihilation is brazen in this strange world.

      1. Samaria not Sumaria

    5. "a peaceful two-state solution."

      When one has the stated goal of demolishing the other?

  5. I like watching the idiots in the administration antagonize Israel. Anything that could help get us out of the festering shithole that is the Israel-Palestine bullshit is a plus, and it would be even funnier if it was done inadvertently by bumbling egomaniacs. Bring on some more of this!

    1. They'll probably make Israel into an enemy and become allies of Syria or something stupid like that.

      1. Yeah, I'm not optimistic that the results would be better than what we had before.

        1. Stupid rarely gets rewarded in foreign relations, it seems.

    2. How does antagonizing Israel do anything to get us out of the Israel-Palestine bullshit?

      It doesn't, it just means we're switching sides.

      1. Yeah, I don't think so. Even if this administration wanted to, anything overt enough would just fire up Congress. Which will matter in a few months.

      2. Well, you see, Israel will send back one of its fat American government cheques/'loans' to spite th...

        BAHAHAHAHAHAHA...oh, almost got through that with a straight face.

        1. *Well, you see, Israel will send back one of its fat American government cheques/'loans' *

          Surely you refer to the vig that we pay to both the Israelis AND the Egyptians in return for not waging war on each other every 6 or 7 years.

          I'm not sure what we get for all the other forms of bribes and tributes to the rest of the Middle East. Skyscrapers knocked down, maybe.

          1. In truth Israel doesn't need it,and many there don't want it.Egypt on the other hand,and it's part of Carter's peace treaty

          2. Yeah, mostly referencing to the FMF (Foreign Military Fund) and some other 'foreign aid' to Israel. Most of the FMF funds has to go to United States arms manufacturers (around seventy percent I believe). So there's a cronyism factor in it as well.

              1. I would like to add that if you are an Arm's Manufacturer, you are going to do more stable, and profitable business in long term, low level conflicts than short lived, total wars.

                1. JPyrate|10.31.14 @ 10:13PM|#
                  "I would like to add that if you are an Arm's Manufacturer, you are going to do more stable, and profitable business in long term, low level conflicts than short lived, total wars."

                  True enough. Are you seeing 'design' in the Mid-East conflicts, or merely commenting on the coincidence?

        2. Those checks never leave the US, they are spent on US armaments. Lockheed-Martins lobbyists and senators , among others, will unhappy were their money shutoff. As for Israel the amount is about 1% of GDP, pleasant but hardly critical. Hamas on the other hand absolutely needs the 100's of billions we give them.

  6. "considering the antagonism the administration has shown toward the Jewish state"

    Is Isreal a "Jewish" state? Just asking.

    1. *Israel

    2. Yes, it is. "Jewish" in that context is tribal rather than religious.

    3. Jewish as in ethnicity, rather than purely religious.

    4. Interesting. I was thinking 'cultural' while reading the question. 'Tribal' & 'ethnicity' were also offered as answers.

      I think I will mentally debate the semantic differences for a few minutes to entertain myself. So sad...

      1. "Cultural," no. For example, Mizrahi Jews are culturally quite different from Sephardic Jews, who are culturally quite different from Ashkenazi Jews. It's tribal.

    5. Maybe I didn't ask my question correctly. I know Israel has lots of Jews, something like 75% of the population.

      What I am asking is: Does Israel declare itself (constitution, other founding documents) to be a "Jewish State"? If not, why does the author use the words "Jewish state" in the sentence I quoted? Why not just use "Israel" instead of "the Jewish state"?

      The implication is that Obama is racist or some other form of bigot regarding Israel.

      1. Wikipedia states that, "In its Basic Laws, Israel defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic State."

        Since that's a fairly verifiable claim, I presume it is correct.

  7. It's quite simple, Obama is both a Muslim and a Communist, 2 reasons for him to hate Benjamin Netanyahu and to hate Israel.

    And so long as there is Islam in the world, there will never be peace with Israel.

    It is a fundamental precept of Islam to make war until the entire world submits to Allah. First the Jew, then the Christian and then everybody else.

    1. Muslim and Communist? They don't seem to completely mesh and do you have evidence of this? Obama is certainly left-of-center, but I really don't think he's a marxist by any means. Let's keep things in perspective.

      Good luck completely removing Islam from the world. It will eventually happen, but in the medium term the best we can hope for is that it becomes less relevant. Kind of like what has happened to Christianity and Judaism in the west. I say this as someone who is not a fan of organized religion, so I have no dog in this fight.

      1. Religion isn't going anywhere, dude. Trends do not necessarily continue to 100% or 0%.

    2. Considering there is no evidence that Obama is either a Muslim or a Communist, it's quite painful that some of you conservatives keep that schtick running when there are so many actual problems to talk about.

      1. Considering that the claim was busted almost instantly, it's quite painful that some of you lefties have to scramble to find something to gripe about.

      2. Conservatives?

        1. "Sevo" is the Latin root of "conservative." Like you didn't know that.

          1. An Innocent Man|11.1.14 @ 8:04AM|#
            "Sevo" is the Latin root of "conservative." Like you didn't know that."

            Uh, no. That's "servo". Nice try, though.

    3. There might also be a problem with Soviet style Communists (such as Obama's father figure, Frank Marshall Davis) and Israel for another interesting reason. The Soviet Communists were the Bolsheviks and the early Israelis came from Russia (they were called Palestinians then) and as Mensheviks they were the losers in the struggle for power in Russia. The Bolsheviks look and see their rivals and losers, the Mensheviks, establishing a country anyway. It is not something that would elicit warm feelings from the Communists/Bolsheviks.

      As Josef Stalin joked in 1906, since the Bolsheviks were the party of native Russians and the Mensheviks were the party of Jews, it was best to have a pogram in the party to get rid of them.

      "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here."

  8. Kerry sucks, but the Israelis haven't exactly been shy about insulting/criticizing him. This has been done anonymously and Israel's Foreign Minister even called him out in public. I realize he's not elected, but he is still the senior official in charge of overseeing foreign relation for the United Statess.

    Does Israel need our money anymore? Why not just stop giving to both sides in this conflict? Our involvement in that region hasn't panned out in recent years.

    1. John Titor|10.31.14 @ 7:18PM|

  9. As tasteless as the chickensh!t comment was, it pales in comparison to the incessant arrogance of the Israelis. They know they own Congress, and can act with impunity. And they do so with our tax dollars. We've basically subsidized their defense forces for decades. Ponder that - a foreign country has nearly all of our federal government at their beck and call. How can that be good?

    1. Did you mistype "Stormfront" in the URL?

      1. Can you intelligently and meaningfully dispute anything in my post? Doubtful.

        1. Certainly:
          "Ponder that - a foreign country has nearly all of our federal government at their beck and call."

          I guess that's the reason one of the US gov't officials call the Israel PM "chickenshit", cause the Israelis have the US gov't at their beck and call?
          Now, about Stormfront; how did you find your way here from there?

        2. " They know they own Congress"

          Cite aaannnnd...can I buy shares?

    2. Gorthan. By subsidizing Israel's defense the U.S. keeps it's Arms Industry profitable. It has nothing to do with your paranoid delusions about the "Jews". Try the thicker tinfoil. You and headinass should have a long conversation.

      1. ..."By subsidizing Israel's defense the U.S. keeps it's Arms Industry profitable."...

        So the aid is intended as nothing other than a M/I complex subsidy?

        1. Mostly, yes. There are geopolitical considerations, but when it comes down to it, it's the same as most other activities of our government- money to favored interests.

        2. I'm not an expert by any means Sevo, but yes, that's how it appears to me. It does somewhat explain why the U.S. would give aid to countries that hate it.

          1. Military aid with conditions is also a foreign policy tool that gives an incentive for arms manufactures to not make weapons for countries that you may be going to war with.

  10. And look at how this comment is treated! You know as well as I do that the present occupant of the White House is an outlier when it comes to paying obeisance to Israel. So the Israel Lobby is non-existent?

    1. Gorthan|10.31.14 @ 8:02PM|#
      "And look at how this comment is treated! You know as well as I do that the present occupant of the White House is an outlier when it comes to paying obeisance to Israel. So the Israel Lobby is non-existent?"

      So you're called on your bullshit and now you move the goalposts?
      Buzz off.

    2. So. An unfriendly outlier in the office is proof there's a Jewish lobby?

      1. You've never heard of AIPAC?


  11. Amazing how quickly the old anti-semite canard is trotted out the moment one criticizes Israel.

    1. Hey American, how you been? Not posting on your "fuck you tulpa" handle anymore?

      1. You reckon he'd 'owned' by Stormfront?

    2. It's an easy way to silence your critics without actually having to factually refute them.

      1. What, making sockpuppet accounts to more easily spread talking points? I agree. It's terrible.

  12. A good balanced article.

  13. Look at a map. How does Israel physically even get to Iran - which has learned from Osirak with a distributed, hardened, redundant atomic infrastructure?

    Israel has a world-class air force; but its a tactical air force without even a medium bomber. F-16's can't get from Israel to anywhere meaningful in Iran and back, even carrying only gas. F-15's can do it, but they're on vapors with no margin for error - and certainly not while lugging heavy earth-penetrator munitions needed for hardened Iranian facilities.

    Israel has air-to-air tankers, but where would they park them to top off combatants? Over the Persian Gulf? Saudi Arabia on the sly or some underhanded, unheard of deal? And all that ignores the overflight problems of intervening countries and a now-duplicitous United States which knows when a fucking mosquito moves over the Gulf or Iraq.

    I don't think Israel can do anything strategically useful using only conventional weapons against the Iranian nuclear program.

  14. Progressives don't like Israel, and it's more than being "aloof." That word was completely misused. They are kept in line because the majority of Americans still support Israel. You can't come out and say an ally with 60+% of American support is committing genocide, as they would put it.

    While I have no issue with Israel's actions in the Middle East, I defy anyone to tell me one positive that comes out of having them as allies. It's one of those situations where we got wrapped up in the mess early post-WW2 and never got ourselves out of even when it made no sense to stay involved.

    Israel is plenty capable of defending itself without us as many have already acknowledged. And, frankly, a lot of our issues in the region stem directly from our support of Israel. They aren't an ally you can really trust, their money does influence our politics to a level that would typically raise alarm, and there's no payoff for Americans.

    1. So, I'll go with the view above. The Obama administration is doing a small favor here even if for the wrong reasons. That's about as much as you can hope for from American's foreign policy these days.

      Now if only it wouldn't all be reversed the second he steps out of office.

      1. In answer to

        "I defy anyone to tell me one positive that comes out of having them as allies."

    2. " ally with 60+% of American support is committing genocide, as they would put it."

      Turkey? Saudi Arabia ( by proxy )? ISIS who we once supported as an antidote to Assad?

      If the Israelis are committing genocide they aren't even doing it as well as the Drug Cartels in Mexico. I think it is just a war.

      1. There is no bleeping genocide for f-sakes.

        1. It really bugs me when people don't read. I do not think it's genocide nor do I have moral issues with their actions. This is stated pretty clearly:

          "...as they would put it.

          While I have no issue with Israel's actions in the Middle East..."

        2. There are many people (including Jewish Holocaust survivors) who would disagree with you on that assessment.



          1. And I don't care. Those people are bastardizing the word genocide and their own experiences (in the case of Holocaust survivors).

            The Palestinian civilians are caught up as collateral damage at best. There is no systematic effort to slaughter them, and they aren't dying in massive numbers even in the middle of a massive conflict. Their population isn't being drained. This is not ethnic cleansing.

            If what's happening to the Palestinians is genocide, than what America did to Germany and Japan is Holocaust-esque, too. It's stupid. People saying it are stupid.

    3. At US request Israel stopped the Syrian invasion of Jordan during the war between the Jordanian army and Arafat's PLO. The US made the request Jordan was a US client state. At US request Israel did nothing when Sadam fired rockets into Isral so as to smooth things over for Bushes Iraq invasion alliance. There have been other such instances.

      1. Really? I like how make this all sound so altruistic of Israel. America provided Israel protection and kicked Saddam out of Kuwait.

        You think Israel wanted Syria taking over Jordan or Saddam taking over Kuwait? The answer is obviously no. Just like how Israel wants American involvement in Syria right now (along with the other Gulf States).

        These aren't favors to America. They were basic common sense decisions for Israel.

  15. wow. worse than even i thought.

  16. Fuck Israel. Cut their 3+ billion a year allowance and see what they do. End all foreign welfare while we are at it.

    1. Even The Federalist admitted, in its appreciation of Nelson Mandela, that superpower divestment was what brought peace to southern Africa. Rapprochement with Iran and an end to free security for GCC monarchies would probably go a long way towards achieving the same thing for the Middle East if that is, in fact, our intended goal. Certain of our foreign policy apparatus would be perfectly happy to keep the region in disarray for the next hundred years.

  17. I do not view the Iran quote as gloating, think the author should look up the definition prior to using it next time.

    What I do take exception with is the author saying

    Is there any other friend treated similarly?

    That takes as a conclusion that Israel is a friend of the US. In my book, there is more than enough factual evidence accumulated over decades to show that Israel, while perhaps not an outright enemy of the US, is definitely not a friend of the US.

    1. I wouldn't hesitate to characterize them as an enemy. The bombing of the USS Liberty is just one of many examples.

  18. Neither Israel nor Netanyahu nor any other state or head of state is my friend. I've never set foot in Israel and have never even met Netanyahu or any other head of state, much less befriended them, so this article asserts little interesting to me. Maybe the article interests other people imagining themselves friendly with Netanyahu. For me, he's only a face in the media. He might as well be a fictional character. He's no more my friend that Vladimir Putin or Angela Merkel or Stefan L?fven. None of these people even know my name.

    That said, the idea that Obama or the United State as a corporatist "person" is more "frustrated" with Netanyahu or Israel than with Assad (presumably the "genocidal Arab dictator") and Syria is patently ridiculous on its face. Where is Obama or any official of his administration calling Netanyahu a "genocidal dictator"? Where is the debate over a military regime change in Israel?

    Am I supposed to think that "chickenshit" reflects greater frustration than "genocidal dictator" or that the sort of "pressure" the United State exerts on the Netanyahu administration, including billions in military aid this year alone, reflects greater frustration than arming insurrectionists opposing Assad or directly opposing his regime militarily? Seriously? A blindfolded fool can't take this assertion seriously.

  19. What is this zionist apologist article doing in Reason ?

    1. I was wondering the same thing. I'm very surprised to see so many pro-Israel comments on a website like this - I thought libertarians were smarter than that.

      1. Same reason we see so many Russophobic attitudes and posts here. People don't consciously know how prejudiced they really are, and it doesn't help that reason is so thoroughly integrated with Fox News.

        1. You make a good point. I wasn't aware that they were integrated with Fox News at all, but I'm not a regular on the site. I have noticed that they take a pretty right-leaning stance on some issues (like Israel), so that would explain it.

          1. You make a good point.

            No he doesn't. That's one of the most content-free, talking points-filled posts any leftie troll has ever made on reason (that wasn't made by you, of course).

            Easier to spread that nonsense in an thread the regular commenters aren't visiting anymore, isn't it+

  20. my friend's ex-wife makes $61 /hr on the internet . She has been unemployed for 5 months but last month her income was $13782 just working on the internet for a few hours. pop over to this site...

    ???? http://www.cashbuzz40.com

    1. Some questions:

      Why does she make less than a man in the same position? How can you defend sexism like that?

      Why is she forced to work longer hours with more schedule changes and tighter supervision than her white colleagues? How can you defend racism like that?

      Why does your company not pay for retroactive abortions for her children? How can you defend that horrific denial of the reproductive rights of their workers?

      Until you can defend these practices, I don't think anyone here is buying your Neonazi goods. Peddle them at Taki.

  21. The left will despise the "Goliath" in any debate or issue. Since Israel can pound on the Islamic state and enjoy support from various superpowers, well, there it is.

    The country's relationship with Israel is strange. Gays can marry in Israel and Jewish immigrants probably did more to strengthen the nation's defense and economy than today's natives and immigrants, but the left detest them with a passion. And most Jews vote for a party that doesn't really care for their homeland. No Latino or Asian will vote anyone that's so openly hostile to their motherland.

    France actually lent us troops and supplies during the revolutionary war. If America was like any other nation on earth, the public would consider France as a sentimental ally. But no one likes France here, but everyone has a soft spot for Israel, even though we didn't do anything to stop the holocaust and Israel wasn't really involved in any of our wars.

  22. Obama should have pulled the plug from the very start. If Israel is this great example of democracy and a market economy that everyone hypes, then they shouldn't need $5 billion of our taxes in aid every year.

    1. Especially considering it's illegal under the Symington Amendment for the US to give foreign aid to any country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (Israel).

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