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November 9, 2014 4:15 pm

Game of Chicken: Hostile Words Precede Hostile Action

avatar by Laura Fein

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Netanyahu, Obama meeting, Sept. 2014. Photo: GPO

Netanyahu, Obama meeting, Sept. 2014. Photo: GPO

The Obama Administration’s contempt for Israel reached a new low when a senior administration official told Atlantic Monthly reporter Jeffrey Goldberg, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickens**t.” A second senior official called the Israeli Prime Minister (and former elite special ops commando) a “coward” for obliging U.S. policy and not bombing Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

I wish I could believe these were just staffers behaving badly, but Goldberg is often the preferred choice to pen deliberate “leaks” the Administration wants to disseminate but is too, well, chicken to state directly. And in fact, the White House has, as of this writing, neither apologized, nor publicly condemned the remark, nor fired the source – all of which should be demanded loudly and clearly by all supporters of Israel. Instead, they have merely termed the comments “inappropriate” and “counterproductive.” Every Beltway insider I spoke with privately identified the same few possible sources, and there is no doubt that the Administration not only knows who said it but approves the message, mild protests notwithstanding. Indeed public scorn for Israel’s leaders is the calling card of this Administration. The latest insult is simply a continuation of the disrespectful, if not intentionally humiliating, actions the Obama Administration has consistently engaged in.

Still, open malice to an ally is not usually cultivated in a vacuum, especially a week before the U.S. midterm elections.Outrageous speech often precedes outrageous action, and we need not look far to see what may be coming soon.

First and foremost, Iran negotiations are drawing close to their deadline, and the U.S. will most likely cave to an impotent deal that leaves Iran within months of achieving a weapon. And even during this “courtship” period, Iran has thwarted UN inspections.  In yet another abuse of “executive privilege,” President Obama has directly stated his intent to circumvent the need for Congressional approval to suspend sanctions if a deal is reached.

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By calling Netanyahu “chickens**t” and a “coward” for deferring to U.S. policy and refraining from military action to stop Iran, the Administration is preemptively smearing the most credible critic of its disastrous Iran negotiations. This serves to deflect attention from its own imperious governance and deplorable policies, just as it demonstrates how pointless it is for Israel to submit to U.S. pressure.

A second reason to undermine Netanyahu personally is to punish him for recent statements supporting Jewish building in Jerusalem, even in areas that would never be ceded under any potential agreement. Netanyahu previously complied with the U.S. request to freeze construction in Judea/Samaria, but as the American-sponsored negotiations disintegrated and the Administration has grown more overtly hostile to Israel (airport closing, stopping routine weapons transfer mid-war), Netanyahu has publicly supported building permits and stated “I’m not going to say to Jews not to buy [homes] in Jerusalem.”

The Administration’s reported fury over potential construction of a few hundred homes in an existing Jewish neighborhood is as disturbing as its complete indifference to the recent Palestinian terror attacks in Jerusalem, including the attempted assassination of American Rabbi Yehuda Glick, who seeks Jewish access to holy sites, and the killing of an American baby girl (along with an adult) by a terrorist who drove his car into a crowd. Anger over housing but not over murder? The contemptuous comments are paving the way for more contemptible actions.

Finally, the Administration may be signaling a future policy of recognizing a Palestinian state. In his venomous UN speech in September, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas abandoned even the pretense that he will pursue a negotiated peace and indicated that he will soon seek UN recognition of a self-declared “state.” Several countries have already “recognized” such an entity. While previously it was unthinkable that the U.S. would not intervene, many observers now question this assumption and envision Obama slamming the door in Israel’s face as he exits the Oval Office. The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens suggested as much recently, and even Jeffrey Goldberg himself, in the same Atlantic article, entertains the possibility when he states that he “imagine[s] that the U.S. will still try to block such a move”  — implying the opposite is not inconceivable. Some in D.C. consider it inevitable. Today U.S. officials insult Netanyahu to his face; tomorrow will they stab him in the back at the UN?

Perhaps another result of the vulgar insults has been to test the strength of the U.S.-Israel bond, including the power of the Jewish communal organizations that shepherd that relationship. Besides the ZOA, I could not find many statements calling for firing the officials, or demanding an apology. This has to change, and soon. Israel’s supporters must demand that Israel’s elected leaders be treated with respect, lest the next offense be actions instead of mere words. And we must mobilize to fight a nuclear Iran and a UN-created Palestinian Arab state before it is too late.

Laura Fein is the Executive Director of ZOA-NJ.

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  • Why Obama has no been impeached till now ? He behave so bad has no respect for other country ,good for Nataniahu he deos what he want ,he should not lessen to Obama .the Jews are the chosen people’s and nothing will destroy them .we pray for them amen

  • Stan

    Most readers have missed the psychological core of the Obama administration: its craving for power. Obama has just lost control of any part of Congress and is two years away from losing all his power. That is not psychologically acceptable, so we should expect him to do something to prevent it.

    That is where the “CS” comment in connection with Iran fits in. He’s trying to goad Netanyahu into a pre-emptive strike against Iran so that the US AIR Force can go to Iran’s defense and engage in a shooting war with the IDF.

    The purpose of this is not directed so much at Israel as it is at American democracy. Such a conflict would lead to pogroms in America, which would enable Obama to declare martial law with him as de facto dictator. He would determine that the 2016 elections could not take place under such circumstances, and follow the example set by Mahmud Abbas and arbitrarily extend his presidency.

    This is how American democracy will die.

    • I could agree with Mr. Robert Butler, EXCEPT for one very important part!! The United States of America is NOT a Democracy! I am at a loss as to why most USA citizens think that our country is a Democracy! How can a large percent of the citizens not know what their country is! I live in the United States of America which is located in North America next to Canada. Other countries are located in Central America and South America. The United States of America is a REPUBLIC!

  • Obama is a greater threat to the West than Osama ever was. A filthy traitor to all American values.

  • Joel Farber

    With all due respect to Laura Fein, I wonder if she, together with every commentator on this episode, has missed the essential point of calling someone a “coward.” It is partly a projection of one’s own fears and partly a goad to action, an action that the namecaller fears to take. So I wonder if Obama, while realizing the disaster that a nuclear Iran would engender, fears to undertake the necessary kinetic action to stop her and hopes to goad Israel into doing it. He would thus be able to be righteously indignant while secretly heaving a sigh of relief.

    • Myron Robinson

      Obama has not got the balls to do the correct thing. He is the all pleasing President who has less balls than Hilary Clinton. Obama has just signed the death warrant for the next Democratic Nominee for the Presidency in 2016. Hilary Clinton would have made a great President.

  • steven L

    The Pr. decided long ago, even before his run for the presidency, to take the side of the Muslim world, for which the Palestinians are a proxy.
    Despite the knowledge of the geographical/strategical considerations that make a full Palestinian state impossible, he wants to impose on the Israelis to trust the untrustworthy Palestinians who offer only a “HUDNA”.
    Therefore if he is not trying to undermine IL, what is he trying to accomplish?

  • Robert Weintraub

    Obama is a lame duck perhaps the lamest in American presidential history. His own Chief of Staff disagreed with Obama on the care for civilian casualties during the recent Gaza war. While the administration slammed Israel for causing civilian casualties Army Chief Dempsey said that Israel went to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Further General Dempsey is sending “learning teams” of American soldiers to Israel to learn from Israeli’s how to minimize civilian casualties. Hillary Clinton has already distanced herself from Obama on the issue of building in Jerusalem. Further distancing among Democratic presidential aspirants is almost certain in the future. Democratic politicians need Jewish support because give more money to Democrats than any other ethnic group.

  • schm0e

    the obama administration is an embarrassment to the American people. He does not speak for America, but for our enemies.

    • Anthony Charles Abela

      You stand to be corrected schmoe, the o’bama administration is not just an embarrassment to the American people but to ALL the world, except deranged despots and dictators and any place where the word democracy does not exist in their vocabulary. I am Maltese born and have lived in Australia for 51 years and I still pray for the Jewish people and where I can ,give moral support. May J—h bless and keep the Jewish nation.

  • art

    where are Feinstein shumer Etc?? They have followed Obamas’ party line for 6 years It is time they show some courage and stand up to Obama. He will betray Israel in the UN and impose sanctions and the saudi plan.

  • Emmett

    That is a complement for PM Chickenlips. Why does the media try to hide the fact that he is a corrupt leftist traitor?

  • Suzette




    • Michael

      God is long dead. Wake up, you dummy.

  • Efram

    The only answer is for congress to act. It needs to take an executive decision to give Iran nuclear weapons to court to stop him. Maybe, with the new congress, our traitor-in-chief might be impeached for high treason. It is only just, and, therefore, it will never happen.

  • Obama reveres the sociopath Muhammad who personally decapitated 600 – 900 unarmed Jews. Everything follows from his reverence for a mass murderer of Jews.

  • David Levy

    Sadly, the American Jewish community has gone missing, just when it is most needed to speak up loudly and clearly against this administration.

  • Fred

    It is quite clear to see by word & deed the treacherous Obama / Kerry policy vis avis Israel and the bootlicking of Iran & other reactionary Arab states. It is a US disgrace to cave in to Arab policies. Obama / Kerry are at least honest in their hatred of Israel by joining the rest of the world bully’s . the US voters have perceived the real nature of Obama in the last election. A muslim to the core.

  • HaroldT38

    Why are you afraid to use the word “..shit” ? Obama’s administration is not.
    The silence from most of the USA’s Jewish organizations is disgraceful. Cowering Jews!

  • Mireille Mechoullsm

    I also wish they do. Where is the American Jewish Committee, The Anti defamation League, All the Jewish Federations, etc, etc……………