Obama and Netanyahu in Tight Spot on Iran

Analysis: Both Leaders Walk on Political Tightrope

All Smiles: Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, shown here during a meeting last spring, are both facing tricky domestic political and diplomatic situations.
getty images
All Smiles: Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama, shown here during a meeting last spring, are both facing tricky domestic political and diplomatic situations.

By Reuters

Published September 12, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu appear to have landed in a place neither wanted to be: squabbling about Iran, in public, ahead of a U.S. presidential election.

For the Democratic U.S. president, the dispute risks alienating supporters of Israel in a campaign in which Republican nominee Mitt Romney is eager to drive a wedge between Obama and Jewish voters, and to portray the president as weak.

For Netanyahu, who prides himself on his grasp of U.S. politics, it may further underline the disconnect with his nation’s ally over the imminence of the threat from a nuclear-armed Iran and the advisability of an Israeli strike to prevent it.

The U.S.-Israeli rift, among the deepest in recent decades, has bubbled barely below the surface for over a year, but broke into the open on Tuesday.

In recent weeks, Netanyahu had begun demanding that Obama set “red lines” that Iran must not cross in its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons. Washington has made clear, in not so subtle diplomatic code, that it is not ready to take such a step - and did not appreciate the advice.

Then on Tuesday, Netanyahu went a diplomatic step further, suggesting the United States had no right to try to stop Israel from using force against Iran.

“The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’” Netanyahu, speaking in English, told a news conference in Jerusalem.

“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,” he added.

Hours later, an Israeli official said Obama had rejected Netanyahu’s request for a meeting in the United States later this month - a fact sure to be read as a snub in Israel. The White House disputed that version of events, saying Netanyahu never sought a meeting in Washington and it never rejected one.


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!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • 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.