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...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.