US President Barack Obama has started an unprecedented campaign against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an effort to bluntly interfere with the democratic process of a fellow allied state.
When we start asking ourselves what motivation the US president might have for such intervention, the answers can only worry us.
The facts are clear, but some prefer to ignore them.
On the one hand, Obama’s campaign guru Jeremy Bird is leading an intensive drive to remove Netanyahu from power. Bird is working with the V15 group – a “grassroots” outreach organization seeking “change in the government.” The group is massively funded by foreign donations, and is using Obama-like tactics to try and convince the Israeli electorate to move to the Left.
The Obama administration of course denies any involvement, claiming Bird is an independent person who can take on any client. However, it seems fantastical that a close political confidant to the American president would have had no conversations with the White House prior to getting involved in the campaign.
Still, if this did not convince the reader of the blatant intervention of the Obama administration in Israeli affairs, consider these facts: One of the main supporters of V15 is the group OneVoice. Nimrod Dweck, a founder of V15, admitted OneVoice is the organization that issues receipts for V15.
Since V15 has not been registered as a nonprofit or as a company, OneVoice is the official group running the V15 campaign for all practical and legal purposes.
One of the donors of OneVoice is the US State Department. In other words, US Secretary of State John Kerry and the American administration are funding the group that is running the campaign to replace Netanyahu! While OneVoice claims the money received from the State Department was not used to fund V15, US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York) have asked Kerry to provide evidence that US taxpayer money is not being used to influence the outcome of the upcoming Israeli election.
No convincing answer has yet to be given.
This is all happening as the Obama administration is boycotting Netanyahu’s visit to the US in March; claims have varied as to why ever since the visit was announced.
First, the administration claimed Netanyahu broke protocol when announcing his visit without its approval; however, it was quickly reported that protocol actually dictated that US House Speaker John Boehner, who invited the prime minister, was the one who was to update the White House. The next claim was that there was a long-standing US tradition not to meet with candidates before an election; however in 1996, president Bill Clinton, of Obama’s own Democratic Party, hosted Labor candidate Shimon Peres at the White House right before Israeli elections.
It thus seems that the boycott of the Netanyahu visit to Israel is nothing other than another vehicle for intervention in the Israeli election.
One wonders why the Obama administration would want to intervene in the internal elections of an allied state. It is widely known that the personal relationship between Obama and Netanyahu has rarely been positive, and that they would rather not have to work with each other. However, one would expect the American president to make such radical decisions based on policy concerns, not personal feelings.
Therefore, in order to understand the motivation for Obama’s intervention in Israel’s elections, we need to understand his policies in the Middle East.
Obama’s Middle Eastern policy was first articulated in his famed 2009 speech in Cairo, titled “A New Beginning,” one of his first talks on policy. Making such a central speech so early in his administration showed how important the vision outlined in the speech was to him – with Obama calling for a new foundation for the US relationship to the Arab world. Yet in his entire onehour speech, the fledgling president failed to mention terrorism even once. Rather, while claiming Israel would stay a strong American ally, Obama also said Palestinian statelessness was “intolerable,” embracing the Palestinian narrative of victimhood.
When the Arab Spring began, Obama backed the overthrow of American allies such as Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak – even though this meant the election of the hateful, terror-supporting Muslim Brotherhood.
This American support led to the growth of the Arab Spring, which eventually caused the rise of Islamic State – a group which originated in the chaos of the Syrian civil war, caused by the Arab Spring; as well as the chaos in Iraq, caused by Obama’s withdrawal of American troops from the country.
Islamic State is, in many ways, the creation of the Obama administration’s policies. Yet when speaking about the terrorist movement, Obama said: “ISIL [Islamic State] is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents.” This ridiculous statement shows Obama’s unwillingness to look at reality with open eyes. One can claim Islamic State is only representative of the most extreme forms of Islam, and that it represents a tiny minority of people; however, how can one claim it is not Islamic? On the Iranian issue, Obama’s policy from the start was to seek negotiations with Iran, without preconditions. These negotiations are now happening and to Obama, as he sees the chaos all around the Middle East, the signing of a treaty with the Islamic Republic might be his last shot at promoting his utopian and unrealistic vision of what the Middle East should look like.
These negotiations are, for him, of crucial importance – and he would be willing to sacrifice much to get any piece of paper signed that will make him believe his vision is finally coming to reality.
In short, Obama sees the Middle East in a utopian vision, believing that if we only acted the right way, the problems of the Middle East would be solved.
Netanyahu is the greatest spokesman in the world today for the realist worldview, emphasizing the threat of radical Islam and the need to take it seriously. He understands that some problems cannot be solved, but that we instead need to make sure we are kept in the best possible position, considering the existence of these problems.
Obama thus wants a deal with Iran; Netanyahu opposes a bad deal, and does not believe a good deal can be reached.
Netanyahu is an obstacle to Obama’s attempt to apply his policy. Knowing how dangerous the American president’s policies are, we can conclude that Netanyahu is one of the only things protecting the Western world from Obama’s folly.
In this way, Netanyahu is to Obama what Winston Churchill was to Neville Chamberlain – as Churchill was one of the fiercest critics of Chamberlain’s appeasement of Nazi Germany. The difference is that Obama’s appeasement of Iran is an even more dangerous threat to the Western world than the Nazis were – since while the hateful ideologies of Islamism and Nazism are similar, this time, nuclear weapons are involved.
This is why Obama cannot stand Netanyahu and wants his defeat in the elections in March: The prime minister won’t let him make the mistakes he so dearly wants to make. This is also why Obama will do anything he can to stop Netanyahu from speaking to the US Congress, to ensure he does not convince Congress to stop the Iranian nuclear deal he is trying to broker.
History will be defined by the outcome of the battle between Obama and Netanyahu.
If Obama wins, we will see an Islamic nuclear superpower threaten the very existence of the Western world. If Netanyahu wins, the Western world might manage to survive the serious threat imposed by radical Islam.
The Western world needs Netanyahu to win this battle. The writer is an attorney and a former legislative adviser to the Knesset’s coalition chairman; he previously served in a legal capacity at the Foreign Ministry. He is a graduate of McGill University Law School and the Hebrew University’s master’s program in public policy.