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The Real Bibi Netanyahu

July 17, 2010

I wasn’t going to post this but then I thought since most of the MSM are largely ignoring this because it’s inconvenient to Israel’s far-right leadership, I would post about it.

An older video has surfaced of Bibi Netanyahu speaking candidly about how he feels the US is little more than a puppet for him to manipulate. He wasn’t aware at the time that he was being recorded. What is it with politicians thinking that the cameras are always turned off? The video was taken in 2001 after his first stint as Prime Minister. The video is in Hebrew but it has been translated. What is notable is how much contempt he shows for the U.S. despite all the diplomatic, financial and defense assistance we provide. He also shows his contempt for President Bill Clinton and most importantly, demonstrates that he had successfully tried to undermine the peace process during his time as PM.

Here is the real Bibi Netanyahu (by the way, this video has received pretty good coverage in Israel so props to them for that) :

Meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu last week, President Obama could not have been more effusive. “I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace,” Obama said. “I believe he is ready to take risks for peace.”

A newly revealed tape of Netanyahu in 2001, being interviewed while he thinks the cameras are off, shows him in a radically different light. In it, Netanyahu dismisses American foreign policy as easy to maneuver, boasts of having derailed the Oslo accords with political trickery, and suggests that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is to “beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it’s unbearable” (all translations are mine).

[snip]

Netanyahu is speaking to a small group of terror victims in the West Bank settlement of Ofra two years after stepping down as prime minister in 1999. He appears laid-back. After claiming that the only way to deal with the Palestinian Authority was a large-scale attack, Netanyahu was asked by one of the participants whether or not the United States would let such an attack come to fruition.

“I know what America is,” Netanyahu replied. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in their way.” He then called former president Bill Clinton “radically pro-Palestinian,” and went on to belittle the Oslo peace accords as vulnerable to manipulation. Since the accords state that Israel would be allowed to hang on to pre-defined military zones in the West Bank, Netanyahu told his hosts that he could torpedo the accords by defining vast swaths of land as just that.

“They asked me before the election if I’d honor [the Oslo accords],” Netanyahu said. “I said I would, but … I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I’m concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue.”

Smiling, Netanyahu then recalled how he forced former U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher to agree to let Israel alone determine which parts of the West Bank were to be defined as military zones. “They didn’t want to give me that letter,” Netanyahu said, “so I didn’t give them the Hebron agreement [the agreement giving Hebron back to the Palestinians]. I cut the cabinet meeting short and said, ‘I’m not signing.’ Only when the letter came, during that meeting, to me and to Arafat, did I ratify the Hebron agreement. Why is this important? Because from that moment on, I de facto put an end to the Oslo accords…”

Philip Weiss has more of the translated transcript here.

Some Bibi apologists have responded by saying “that was a long time ago” but the fact is, Bibi hasn’t really changed all that much. He’s never supported a two-state solution, ever. He has never been a real partner in peace negotiations and he has no intention of giving the Palestinians even one inch of Jerusalem. He now utters the words “two states,” but most Mideast watchers admit that that was a recent development due in part to political considerations and pressure from the U.S. When we look at the behavior of the far-right Israeli government over the past year and-a-half, I think it’s fair to say that Bibi continues to treat the U.S. with a certain thinly-veiled contempt, as does his side-kick Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The question is, why have groups like AIPAC and members of Congress sided with Bibi and against their President when its obvious that the right-wing Likud government has no interest in a two-state solution? This administration is not anti-Israel and it is shameful that groups like AIPAC, the far right Evangelicals and many American Jewish groups have been trying to sell that lie simply because the administration has tried to be more of an honest broker in the Mideast peace process. This is why nothing ever changes- because despite token repetition of the words “two state solution,” most members of Congress and so-called “pro-Israel” groups (I don’t consider them all that pro-Israel given they don’t seem to mind helping Israel run itself off the nearest cliff) really don’t mean it-  every time any pressure is applied to Israel, the usual suspects push back and the process is brought to a grinding halt. Can anyone really make an honest argument that that is not EXACTLY what happened in this last round of attempts to get a peace process moving? It’s not always the fault of the Palestinians. All hell broke loose when Clinton and Obama dared to request that Israel temporarily stop building illegal settlements beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem. So here we are. The settlements are piling up and soon there won’t be any land left to fight over, a two-state solution will be impossible, Arabs will out-number Jews in Israel and Israel will continue on its current path towards becoming a state with two sets of laws, one set benefiting Jewish Israelis and one set penalizing Arab Israelis. They’ve already started down that road and thank goodness many in Israel are trying to push back against the obvious, undemocratic implications of such a system.

Gideon Levy of Haaretz wrote about the video and its implications:

This video should have been banned for broadcast to minors. This video should have been shown in every home in Israel, then sent to Washington and Ramallah. Banned for viewing by children so as not to corrupt them, and distributed around the country and the world so that everyone will know who leads the government of Israel. Channel 10 presented: The real (and deceitful ) face of Binyamin Netanyahu. Broadcast on Friday night on “This Week with Miki Rosenthal,” it was filmed secretly in 2001, during a visit by Citizen Netanyahu to the home of a bereaved family in the settlement of Ofra, and astoundingly, it has not created a stir.

The scene was both pathetic and outrageous. The last of Netanyahu’s devoted followers, who believe he is the man who will bring peace, would have immediately changed their minds. Presidents Barack Obama and Shimon Peres, who continue to maintain that Netanyahu will bring peace, would be talking differently had they seen this secretly filmed video clip. Even the objection of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to conducting direct negotiations with the man from the video would be understandable. What is there to discuss with a huckster whose sole purpose is “to give 2 percent in order to prevent 100 percent,” as his father told him, quoting his grandfather.

Israel has had many rightist leaders since Menachem Begin promised “many Elon Morehs,” but there has never been one like Netanyahu, who wants to do it by deceit, to mock America, trick the Palestinians and lead us all astray. The man in the video betrays himself in his own words as a con artist, and now he is again prime minister of Israel. Don’t try to claim that he has changed since then. Such a crooked way of thinking does not change over the years….

Anyone who is truly pro-Israel should be concerned with the direction that Netanyahu is charting for Israel. The U.S.-Israeli relationship will always be “special” and we will always be devoted to Israel’s security and that is as it should be. But the notion that to support Israel means to unquestioningly defend any Israeli government, ALL the time, irrespective of short or long-term consequences, is just flagrant stupidity. I am sorry, but it is. Such unthinking, unquestioning, knee-jerk support neither ensures Israel’s long-term security nor does it evidence the slightest bit of objective pragmatism.

I have always believed that the most patriotic people are willing to question their government and hold them to a high standard precisely because they love their country. And the notion that any criticism of Israel is de facto proof of intent to de-legitimize Israel, anti-Israel sentiment or anti-Semitism, is a undemocratic tactic being used to silence debate on the subject.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    July 18, 2010 1:43 pm

    If this were any other nation, there would be hell to pay. If it were a European country we’d be screaming for an apology. If it were a Asian country, talk would shift to economic reprocussions. If it were a largely muslim nation, there would be (frighteningly) saber rattling. It’s Israel, so it’s fine. We don’t care. Why would we care? To care at all would be seen as an insult to Jewish people. I will never understand why we feel they can’t be held to the same standards other countries are with regard to basic international manners. What’s worse is I think his statement that the US can be bent and moved as he wishes is 100% true. We’d sooner give them Long Island than see ol’ Bibi frown. The image of a spoiled child comes to mind.

    I think we will see a one-state apartheid-like system in Israel instead of the much talked about two-state solution precisely because to criticize a policy when the policy is Israeli is to be an evil, anti-Semitic, ranting, dangerous, fringe element.

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      July 18, 2010 1:44 pm

      *repercussions* Why can’t I spell?

    • Steve permalink
      July 18, 2010 2:13 pm

      Discourse- have you heard about the new legislation which they are trying to pass in Israel which will require all citizens to declare their loyalty to Israel as a JEWISH state? If an Israeli Ara b were to refuse they can have their citizenship stripped from them. And the right wing is using it to force Arabs out.

      Israel is a secular state which has many Arab/Muslim members- why should they have to swear allegiance to a state that refuses to acknowledge their rights? Haaretz has been covering it and I think Stacy actually linked to one of their editorials in her post above.

      • discourseincsharpminor permalink
        July 18, 2010 2:32 pm

        Yes, I had and I find the fact that ideas like those are coming close to being law in a modern society horrifying. Truth be told, it would force out more than Arabs, but nobody wants to say that because, sadly, discrimination against Muslims is seen as not as bad by many people. The bottom line is that anyone who is not Jewish would be forced to make a very cruel choice – your faith or your citizenship.

        It doesn’t get much uglier than that.

  2. Steve permalink
    July 18, 2010 2:07 pm

    BRAVO!

    The silence from my tribe is deafening, isn’t it? And where is the US media on this? Strangely silent. For all those who claim the US media is critical of Israel, it’s time to stop the lies.

    Thought experiment- imagine the video featured not Bibi Netanyahu but rather Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, do you think the US media would ignore it? Do you think Ackerman, Berman, Lieberman, schumer would be silent? Or AIPAC?

    You are right Stacy, here in Israel the video has been covered extensively. One news program referred to Bibi as a huckster.

    I’m glad you have the courage to address this- nothing will change unless those of us who really care about Israel’s security speak out against the dangerous, self-defeating policies of the Likud-Shas coalition . It is unacceptable that groups like AIPAC cynically use the label “anti-Semite” to describe anyone who disagrees with Israeli policy. Doing so diminishes the scourge of TRUE antisemitism.

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      July 18, 2010 2:22 pm

      Forget Abbas, imagine if Silvio Berlusconi had said stuff like this – the US would be furious. His “interesting” history would be all over the news and with no shortage of spin either. There would be meetings with the Italian Foreign Minister upon Secretary Clinton’s return from her trip abroad and an apology would be demanded. Interestingly enough, I also think that the big, loud, and generally proud Italian-American community (of which I am a member) would be silent. Why? Because you don’t talk like that in public, with cameras present, about people with whom you have to work. It’s not rocket science, just common courtesy coupled with a little good sense.

      • July 18, 2010 2:31 pm

        So you are saying that the Italian American community wouldn’t publicly criticize Berlusconi or are you saying that they would refuse to come out publicly and support him?

        I think that until more Jewish groups in this country are willing to publicly criticize Israeli policies with which they disagree, not much will change. With the arrival on the scene of J Street and with people like Philip Weiss, Max Blumenthal, Richard Silverstein etc. trying to hold Israel’s leaders to account, things will change, but not quickly. And AIPAC knows it which is why they have launched a full scale assault on the legitimacy of J Street (which is why donated money to J-Street)- they are afraid of any change in the status quo and thus they perceive J Street as a threat.

      • discourseincsharpminor permalink
        July 18, 2010 2:37 pm

        To clarify, I don’t think Italian-Americans would fight the criticism he’d get if he made remarks to the caliber of those made by Bibi. They’d let him take his diplomatic medicine because he’d deserve it.

        Viva La J-Street! I have seen some of their stuff and I’m glad there is finally a voice to counter the monolith that is AIPAC.

  3. Tovah permalink
    July 18, 2010 2:20 pm

    Wow. I hadn’t heard about this. As a Jew this sickens me. I am a political moderate and resent the implication that if I disagree with an Israeli policy I am a self-hating Jew or disloyal. I’m an American woman, a chemist and Jewish. While I certainly support Israel’s security and believe in Israel’s right to self defense I do not support policies which undermine the very principles upon which Israel was created. Ben-Gurion must be rolling over in his grave.

  4. July 18, 2010 3:29 pm

    Now there is a NEW group, the Emergency Committee for Israel (EIC) whose tactics make AIPAC look like children’s fun time.

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/07/17/just-start-wearing-purple/

    It’s really out of control. Perhaps I am wrong but there may come a point where Americans say “ok, this time you’ve gone too far” and there could be some backlash, and not in a good way.

    And because of EIC’s attack on Sestak, I’m going to go give HIM some money now and email his campaign and tell them not to be bullied by these groups. Sestak is not anti-Israel. That he is being slimed as such is as bad as labeling someone “racist” who is not.

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      July 18, 2010 4:53 pm

      Wow! I know I’m echoing the statements made by the author of the piece you linked to but, let me get this straight, it is now OK for US advocates for a foreign country – Israel still is one as I recall – to buy ads to influence US elections in the interests of a foreign country?! I’m having one of those ‘where-the-hell-do-I-live’ moments. I didn’t think that was allow regardless of citizenship status. US elections are, I assumed, about US issues. How could I be so naive? The 2012 election cycle will be more interesting than I thought.

      • July 18, 2010 5:05 pm

        @discourse- you said “it is now OK for US advocates for a foreign country…”

        What do you mean “now?” AIPAC has been doing this for years. Any other group like AIPAC which operates on behalf of a foreign country other than Israel has to register as an agent of said country. The one notable exception is Israel. I think I’ve said this before but given members of AIPAC have been found guilty of spying against the U.S. and FOR Israel, you would think that politicians would avoid them like the plague, but nope, their star power only seemed to increase.

        And you remember the whole snafu with Jane Harman, Democrat of California, right? Where she was caught on a wiretap speaking to a higher up in AIPAC and was trying to get two of their officials’ espionage charges reduced? I believe this happened last year and everyone thought it would be a HUGE scandal and a possible career ender? Nope, it wasn’t:

        ****

        http://www.alternet.org/blogs/rights/137494/bombshell:_rep._jane_harman_caught_on_tape_agreeing_to_lobby_for_alleged_aipac_israel_spies/

        From the article:

        “This is a huge story: Representative Jane Harman, a hawkish, influential “Blue Dog” Democrat “was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington,” according to a report from CQ Politics:

        Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.
        In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.
        Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

        The case, known as the AIPAC espionage scandal centers around allegations that at least two AIPAC staff members passed sensitive US intelligence on Iran, provided by Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin, to Israel. In early 2006, Franklin pled guilty to espionage-related charges and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. The case against two indicted AIPAC staffers, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, is ongoing…

        ***

        Ok, so now someone explain to me how what Harman did was a)legal and b) how the story disappeared so quickly with no repercussions whatsoever to her career?

        I almost hate talking about this stuff because I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but the fact is, AIPAC wields far too much influence over US foreign policy. I would say the same of ANY country who had a lobbying group with that much influence. And yes, there are other lobbying groups that wield far too much influence but what is interesting about AIPAC is that it isn’t just their power, it’s their tactics and the fact that they essentially represent a foreign government.

      • discourseincsharpminor permalink
        July 18, 2010 6:20 pm

        I didn’t think they’d ever been ballsy enough to openly take out ads in an election tell people who is and is not “a friend of Israel”. They’ve had strong ties to government for ages, but they’ve always been rather discreet about it.

  5. AmericanEagle permalink
    July 18, 2010 4:47 pm

    Terrorist lovers

  6. Jory permalink
    July 18, 2010 4:49 pm

    Delurking. I found this site via Laura Rozen, who links to it. I have to say, I enjoy reading the mix of straightforward info. on Secretary Clinton’s day to day work because the media sometimes ignores it but I also like commentary like this. I may not always agree but it always makes me think. A lot of the Hillary sites I see around the blogosphere, at least those that are still up and running, are merely fan-girl sites but this is more than just that and I appreciate it.

    Keep up the great work and the great writing.

  7. HillaryFan permalink
    July 18, 2010 4:53 pm

    @Jory- I agree 100% with you. If it weren’t for sites like this we’d have to go digging for information because the MSM seems more interested in scandal and gossip as opposed to the day to day hard work that Secretary Clinton does every single day to further our foreign policy.

    I’ve said this before but the willingness of people here to discuss things from different perspectives sets this site apart from some of the others- in a good way. I may not always agree but Stacy always makes a compelling argument for what she believes in and supports it with links and other info.

  8. July 18, 2010 5:13 pm

    Discourse: This is from the conservative Israeli daily Ynetnews, I thought you’d get a kick out of it. It’s just an excerpt of the whole commentary:

    http://www.ynetnews.com/Ext/Comp/ArticleLayout/CdaArticlePrintPreview/1,2506,L-3915438,00.html

    “…Netanyahu will also ask the president, gently and politely, to make clear to the Palestinians that he does not intend to present and force an American peace plan, and therefore they would do well to start moving and show up for talks.

    The West Bank construction freeze of all things should not be a problem: Firstly, because there was really never a full freeze, even for a moment. Secondly, because it’s possible to maintain a freeze without declaring it. A few days ago, AIPAC’s top brass visited Israel. AIPAC leaders met with Netanyahu and other ministers. They agreed that once the freeze period ends, Israel will engage in restrained, moderate construction in the West Bank and report to AIPAC accurately and in advance on every house or balcony to be built…

    Got that Obama? Bibi reports settlement policy not to the State Department or to the WH, but to AIPAC.

    And do you think the MSM picked up on that? Of course not. Or if they did they didn’t cover it. And yet I picked up on it, so someone isn’t doing their homework.

    Someone correct me if I am wrong but that one sentence is a HUGE story- it basically says that AIPAC and Bibi will determine the settlement policy and AIPAC will essentially be the one to “approve” it politically going forward, irrespective of US policy is. And that is a big f*cking deal and the HUGE number of members of Congress who are members of AIPAC should be asked if they are aware of this arrangement.

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      July 18, 2010 6:24 pm

      Why bother keeping George Mitchell on the government’s payroll since neither he nor any other elected official or political appointee seems to have any sway in relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

  9. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    July 21, 2010 1:46 am

    Stacy, I know you’re away on business, but I found this and thought it might interest you if you hadn’t already found it.

    http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2010/1008/op43.htm

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