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?
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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.
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Odd: When people near and far criticized George W. Bush for lying and other transgressions, did anyone feel the American people were being insulted, were owed an apology?

The ZOA’s confusion between personality and politics, immediately and eagerly echoed by John McCain, Mitt Romney and Michelle Bachmann, is dangerously childish. Indeed, it entirely misses and thereby distorts the point: This little episode is a proof-text of what is meant by the repeated mantra that America and Israel have an “unshakeable alliance,” a truly unshakeable alliance can thrive even where there is personal animus, disrespect.

The ADL’s Abe Foxman takes a superficially more mature position: “We are deeply disappointed and saddened by this decidedly un-Presidential exchange between Presidents Sarkozy and Obama. President Obama’s response to Mr. Sarkozy implies that he agrees with the French leader. In light of the revelations here, we hope that the Obama Administration will do everything it can to reassure Israel that the relationship remains on a sure footing and to reinvigorate the trust between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which clearly is not what it should be.”

Whoa! An “un-Presidential exchange?” It is wrong for presidents to speak honestly to one another? Foxman wants a scripted politics, politics-as-façade? True, the trust between Obama and Netanyahu is “not what it should be,” but does the responsibility for that fall entirely on Obama? Has Foxman chastised Netanyahu for his contribution to the mutual dislike?

And Foxman continued: “What is sad is that we now have to worry to what extent these private views inform foreign policy decisions of the U.S. and France — two singularly important players in the peace process.” Worry? Not so. Such worries are pointless; we will never be able to parse a public policy and say how much of it owes to personal issues, how much to more dispassionate criteria. We remain perfectly capable of assessing American and French foreign policy decision on their merits, which is as it should be.

Contact Leonard Fein at feedback@forward.com


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