For years in typical diplomatic fashion officials inside the governments of Israel and the United States have insisted the relationship between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is civil, workable and solid. We've been told that the special relationship between the two countries can never be broken. But despite the rhetoric, evidence to the contrary throughout the past six years has often put the friendly nature of the Obama/Netanyahu relationship into question. Both leaders firmly disagree on a number of issues, including where Israel should draw its borders, how to handle Iran, settlements and most recently, the threat of ISIS and how to defend innocent Israeli civilians from Hamas terrorists launching rockets into the country.
Now, a new piece in The Atlantic shows that not only do Obama and Netanyahu disagree on how to handle national security interests and threats from hostile countries willing to take Israel off the face of the map, but that officials have quite a few names for the Prime Minister, including "chickensh*t."
Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickenshit.” I thought I appreciated the implication of this description, but it turns out I didn’t have a full understanding. From time to time, current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency. (President Obama, in interviews with me, has alluded to Netanyahu’s lack of political courage.)
“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”
There is plenty of debate among Israelis about whether Netanyahu has gone far enough in addressing threats to the Jewish State's security and existence, but the idea Barack Community-Organizer-Lead-From-Behind Obama would call Netanyahu "chickensh*it" is really quite incredible.
Earlier today, former Israeli Ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman appeared on Fox News to discuss the name calling.
"If indeed these quotes are true and were said either by the President or his administration I think it is shameful, it's abusive and it's very very counterproductive," Gillerman said. "This is not the way you speak about your only ally, the only Democracy in the Middle East and especially not when the Middle East is so volatile. When we're seeing in a very big way the foreign policy of this administration and especially of the President has created a situation where its allies feel they cannot rely on it and its enemies feel that it can get away with murder, literally. You do not use such abusive language against your only ally, the only Democracy in the region, the only one you can count on and the only one with which the U.S. has a truly, very special special relationship."
Has Prime Minister Netanyahu ever gone golfing eight minutes after giving a statement about the beheading of a citizen by terrorists? Didn't think so.