Opinion: American Presidents Have Played a Strong Role in Israeli Politics

December 4, 2012 11:41 am 0 comments

Rahm Emanuel. Photo: Redux.

Former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel attacked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu yesterday for choosing the “wrong candidate” in the US presidential election, by supposedly opposing Barack Obama.
“He said that Prime Minister Netanyahu had bet on this election, this American election, and had lost,” asserted Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, who was a moderator and interviewer at the Saban Forum where Emanuel spoke.

Emanuel’s remarks were supported in public and private by former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who called Netanyahu’s treatment of Obama “a slap in the face.” Olmert referred specifically to the US election and also to the Israeli government’s decision this week approving new Israeli settlements – a decision that followed PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas’ unilateral push for Palestinian statehood at the UN, which Israel sees as a fundamental breach of Israel- PLO treaties.

Olmert, charged that Netanyahu had gotten involved in an unseemly manner in the American political process, both directly and also through the actions of millionaire Sheldon Adelson, who supports Netanyahu and some Republicans.

“It’s not our business” to get involved in American politics, said Olmert, the first Israeli prime minister convicted for a criminal offense. “I was very upset not when Mitt Romney came to the State of Israel,” said Olmert referring to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“But it’s the whole set-up,” Olmert explained. “It’s about this guy who decided – after he bought the whole political system in Israel– who thought he can [sic] buy the whole political system in America with a hundred million dollars.”

Now Mayor of Chicago, Emanuel is still seen as a close adviser of President Obama, and it is unlikely he would have made such critical remarks of Netanyahu in a public forum without getting some approval from the White House.

Politicians in Chicago and Jerusalem do not always play by the same set of rules, but the remarks of Emanuel and Olmert raise several questions:

• Did Netanyahu actually oppose Obama’s re-election and support the candidacy of Republican Mitt Romney?

• Do Israeli politicians take a more active role in US politics than American politicians take in Israeli politics?

• Do Israeli politicians control all the activities of their US donors?

The answer to these questions appears to be a strong ‘no.’ Netanyahu did not make campaign appearances for Romney, nor did he raise money for him. Netanyahu said he was not backing either candidate in the US elections. Indeed, a Google search reveals not a single Netanyahu quote indicating preference for Romney.

Meanwhile, both Democrat and Republican presidents have played a strong role in Israeli politics, through policy steps, pronouncements and through personnel.

President George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker, reneged on a pledge for loan guarantees to Israel in 1991-92 for the absorption of a massive wave of Soviet Jewish immigrants, undercutting Yitzhak Shamir and clearly supporting Yitzhak Rabin.

President Bill Clinton pulled back on a pledge to release Jonathan Pollard as part of the talks at Wye River in 1998, undercutting Netanyahu, while Clinton’s top pollsters – James Carville and Stanley Greenberg – went to work for Labor Party challenger Ehud Barak in 1999-2000.

This recalls how in the 1950s, the Eisenhower administration sent the CIA into Central America and Iran to undermine regimes it disliked. In the 1990s Clinton sent James Carville. In 2012, someone sent Rahm Emanuel.

Why is no one concerned about the interference in Israeli politics? Beyond the double standards some US politicians employ for Israeli activities in the US versus US actions in Israel, there is a problem regarding the neocolonialist view of US officials and their Jewish advisors who feel that Israel ought to be governed by the Saban Forum. Apparently some failed Israeli politicians also agree.

The writer, a PhD, is an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. This article was origianlly published by the Jerusalem Post. Republished here with permission of author.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    Israeli Soccer Team Faces Prospect of International Ban

    The Israel National soccer team could be facing a World Cup ban, and other soccer sanctions, unless it alleviates travel restrictions and increases field access for Palestinian players and coaches. The head of the Palestinian Football Association is pushing for international soccer’s governing body, the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA), to issue a ban on Israel competing internationally, claiming Israel’s restrictive travel for Palestinians is equivalent to a form of oppression. “It’s not only the athletes,” Jibril Rajoub explains. [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    Jewish Author of ‘Eat to Live’ Dishes on Health Care, Nutrition, Disease Prevention

    JNS.org – While the national debate on “Obamacare” rages on past the recent March 31 sign-up deadline, bestselling Jewish author Dr. Joel Fuhrman says the “current disease care model of what we call ‘health care’ cannot possibly be sustained.” “There is simply not enough money available to support a system in which the lion’s share of expenditures is devoted to acute care, with virtually nothing being spent on preventive medicine, i.e. health care,” Fuhrman says in an interview. “To make [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    A Passover themed cover of hit songs Let It Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Disney’s Frozen has attracted tons of media buzz and a cool 65,ooo views on YouTube within days of going online. The work of Jewish a capella group Six13, the track is aptly named Chozen. We are celebrating “our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere” the group said. The Chozen music video tells the story of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.