Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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...

  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Israelis Venture to Cleveland for NBA Finals

    Israelis Venture to Cleveland for NBA Finals

    JNS.org – The people who sat in seats one and two of row 12, section 120 at Quicken Loans Arena during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday night weren’t your ordinary Cleveland Cavaliers fans. Tomer Hulli and his father, Eli, made the trip from Israel to attend games 3 and 4 in Cleveland. Tomer, who lives in Tzur Moshe, a 25-minute drive north of Tel Aviv, has been playing basketball since he was 5. Hulli said he didn’t plan this […]

    Read more →