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September 23, 2016 8:04 am

Churchill and the Netanyahu-Obama Divide

avatar by Josef Olmert

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama at their meeting at New York's Palace Hotel on Wednesday. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO.

The last meeting between the Israeli and American leaders was not really different from any of the previous ones — and, as usual, no political commentators were really required to tell us commoners what it was all about. This was yet again the role of body-language experts, as looking at the two watching each other disdainfully told the story much better than any political pundit could.

Such animosity can be wholly personal, as leaders are also human beings who can sincerely dislike each other. These two fall within this category, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. In this case, there is something much more profound, and in order to understand it, let us remember the great Winston Churchill, the first-ever person (there were seven more after him) to be granted honorary American citizenship by Congress.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is on record as a great admirer of Churchill’s. US President Barack Obama, on the other hand, is not. In fact, one of the first things he did upon assuming his post was to remove the statue of Churchill from the Oval Office and place it elsewhere in the White House. One explanation for this move was provided by then-Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who said that Obama resented Churchill’s attitude towards the Kenyan struggle for independence.

Obama assured Britons that he really liked “the guy’’ (Churchill), but preferred to have a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. in his office instead.

Whatever Obama’s reason, his gesture was symbolic, as is the fact that Netanyahu wants to be remembered as the Israeli Churchill. And herein lies the the true unbridgeable gap between the two.

Churchill was nationalist, as is Netanyahu. Obama is not. Obama gained political capital by apologizing for America. Netanyahu earns his by exhibiting pride in Israel.

Churchill warned the world about dictators; Netanyahu talks about democracy as a litmus test for the real peace intentions of Arab partners. Other than Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama is the greatest appeaser of some of the worst dictators in the world. The point is that Obama and Netanyahu represent two diametrically opposed political cultures — two totally different historic legacies — poles apart, both philosophically and politically. So, their differences are not about settlements or personal snubs. They are far more profound.

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  • Ben Mizrahi

    Churchill was the last great British leaders before Margaret Thatcher, but He still allowed half of Europe to be taken over by the Communist mass murderer Stalin. Hopefully Netanyahu will not do the same mistake.

  • Bear Klein

    Obama also denies the right of Jews to build homes in all parts of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the Land of Israel. He is appeasing the enemies of Israel who do not want Jews living there. What if some KKK members said we do not accept African-Americans living in certain of parts of Atlanta, keep them out so we could have peace. Obviously Obama would think this was racist and not acceptable.

    That is the real difference Obama fundamentally agrees that Israel needs to pull back to borders that are indefensible and nine miles wide because Israel’s enemies demand this. Obama demands Israel acquiesce to this for its security and well-being. Yet, Netanyahu believes Israeli Jews have a right to build homes in their country and decide for themselves what is real security for Israel.

    Obama after almost eight years still has not learned much about the middle east except it is falling apart. He has not learned that the Palestinians do not want peace but they want to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.