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August 14, 2017 12:36 pm

America’s History of Interfering With Israeli Democracy

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama during a March 2013 meeting in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

With all of the talk about purported Russian interference in America’s elections, it is worthwhile to note that the US has a long-standing history of interfering in democratic elections elsewhere, including in Israel.

As a the Los Angeles Times pointed out last December:

In the Middle East, the U.S. has aimed to bolster candidates who could further the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In 1996, seeking to fulfill the legacy of assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the peace accords the U.S. brokered, Clinton openly supported Shimon Peres, convening a peace summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheik to boost his popular support and inviting him to a meeting at the White House a month before the election. “We were persuaded that if [Likud candidate Benjamin] Netanyahu were elected, the peace process would be closed for the season,” said Aaron David Miller, who worked at the State Department at the time.

Here are other circumstances particular to the Jewish state:

  • A few days before the 2013 Knesset elections, President Barack Obama said, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are,” and added that with “each new settlement announcement Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.”
  • In 1992, when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir refused to surrender to President George H.W. Bush’s demands that Israel stop building in Judea and Samaria, Bush withheld loan guarantees on the eve of Knesset elections. Polls showed that the Israeli public was upset about the crisis between America and Israel and reacted accordingly, bringing Rabin’s Labor Party to power.
  • In 1996, President Bill Clinton did everything he could to aid Prime Minister Peres in his bid to stay in power — including making a virtual joint campaign appearance. The president appeared with Peres in Israel and in the US during the campaign and repeated Labor Party electoral slogans almost verbatim.
  • In the late 1990s, Ehud Barak was endorsed by Clinton to help bring down Netanyahu’s government. Clinton pressured Israel’s Likud coalition partners to topple the government — and Clinton aides James Carville, Stanley Greenberg and Robert Shrum ran Barak’s election campaign.

One wonders if perhaps American interests would be best served — at least in Israel — by letting democracy runs its course.

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, a leading US public relations agency.

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