Bibi Is a Liar, So What's the Fuss?

We Should Be Happy Sarkozy Gave Honest Opinion

Truth Hurts: Many Jews were upset to hear French President Nicolas Sarkozy captured on an open microphone calling Benjamin Netanyahu a ‘liar.’ Why weren’t they happy to hear his honest opinion?
getty images
Truth Hurts: Many Jews were upset to hear French President Nicolas Sarkozy captured on an open microphone calling Benjamin Netanyahu a ‘liar.’ Why weren’t they happy to hear his honest opinion?

By Leonard Fein

Published November 20, 2011, issue of November 25, 2011.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Few stories that start out as potential bombshells end up as utterly duddish (from “dud”) as the “hot mic” exchange between Presidents Sarkozy and Obama. Duddish, that is, here in Israel, where I am for a couple of weeks; not so back home, in the States, as we shall see.

If I were a rich man, I’d immediately do a survey of Israeli public opinion, a survey with just two questions: (1) Do you believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu is a liar? (2) Do you hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu will stay in power for another term after the next elections?

Here’s how I expect the answers would go: A very substantial majority of Israeli voters would acknowledge that their Prime Minister is, indeed, a liar. A majority, albeit somewhat smaller, would endorse his continuing in power.

How can that be so?

The pervasive belief in Israel — and, be it noted, not only in Israel — is that all politicians are liars. So there’s nothing new in President Sarkozy’s blunt assertion. Moreover, the specific assessment of Netanyahu here has long included the sense that he has an aversion to the truth.

If all politicians are liars, you have to go with the liar who delivers. And there’s a widespread perception here that Netanyahu delivers. Specifically, there is broad agreement with his policy of blaming the collapse of the peace process exclusively on the Palestinians. Nor does the current Netanyahu-led effort to criminalize and otherwise restrict dissent arouse widespread outrage.

The more curious question is why such an unsurprising story kicked up such a tempest in the American Jewish community. After all, Netanyahu has been declared a liar not only by Sarkozy but also, months earlier, by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the hot mic that caught Sarkozy saying, “I can’t deal with Netanyahu any more, he is a liar,” also recorded President Obama’s rejoinder: “What about me? I have to deal with him every day.” None of these assessments, shared quite widely among other leaders, should surprise. Yet the Zionist Organization of America (which opposes the two-state solution Netanyahu allegedly endorses), in a state of high dudgeon, demands apologies, and the Anti-Defamation League expresses its profound concern.

As the ZOA misleadingly puts it, the Sarkozy/Obama “personal attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu…demonstrated their hostility towards Israel. Presidents Obama and Sarkozy owe Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli people and all supporters of Israel an apology.” One might have been entitled to suppose that even the ZOA was able to distinguish between personality and politics, perhaps even to remind people that the Obama expression of frustration took place during a conversation in which Obama was seeking French support to oppose Palestinian membership in UNESCO. To say nothing of the truly unprecedented military cooperation between Israel and the US. To say nothing of Obama’s UN speech, so fulsomely pro-Israel.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.