In New Memoir, Obama Accuses Netanyahu of Engaging in ‘Orchestrated’ Push Against His Administration
In his own words, former US President Barack Obama regarded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “smart, canny, tough…gifted communicator” who engaged in an “orchestrated” push against his administration.
The disclosure is contained in Obama’s presidential memoir, “A Promised Land,” which will be published on Tuesday.
In excerpts of the book published in advance by Jewish Insider, Obama wrote that Netanyahu’s “vision of himself as the chief defender of the Jewish people against calamity allowed him to justify almost anything that would keep him in power.”
On the subject of AIPAC, the US pro-Israel lobbying group, Obama claimed that its positions moved rightward in accordance with a political shift in Israel, “even when Israel took actions that were contrary to US policy.”
He lamented that politicians who “criticized Israel policy too loudly risked being tagged as ‘anti-Israel’ (and possibly antisemitic) and [were] confronted with a well-funded opponent in the next election.”
Obama said that he was the subject of a “whisper campaign” that sought to portray him as “insufficiently supportive — or even hostile toward — Israel” during the 2008 presidential race.
“On Election Day, I’d end up getting more than 70 percent of the Jewish vote, but as far as many AIPAC board members were concerned, I remained suspect, a man of divided loyalties; someone whose support for Israel, as one of [campaign manager David Axelrod’s] friends colorfully put it, wasn’t ‘felt in his kishkes’ — ‘guts,’ in Yiddish,” Obama wrote.
Obama also addressed his push for Israel to freeze settlement construction as part of his efforts to facilitate Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Negotiations resumed briefly at the end of the 10-month freeze, which began in 2010, but Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas aborted them and the moratorium was not extended by Netanyahu.
The ex-US president said it was “reasonable” to ask Israel to take such a step, as it was the “stronger party.” However, “as expected,” Netanyahu’s reaction was “sharply negative” and Obama noted his administration came under pressure from the premier’s American allies.
Obama then accused Netanyahu of an “orchestrated” push against him, which he argued underscored that “normal policy differences with an Israeli prime minister exacted a domestic political cost.”