Home  Principles & Statements  Positions of the ACJ  Articles  DonationsAbout Us  Contact Us  Links                                         

Israeli Prime Minister Criticized for Interfering in Election and Pushing U.S. to War

Allan C. Brownfeld, Editor
Special Interest Report
December 2012

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been sharply criticized for interfering in the 2012 U.S. presidential election and pushing America to war with Iran.  
Writing in Time (Sept. 12, 2012), columnist Joe Klein described “an unprecedented attempt by a putative American ally to influence a U.S. presidential campaign … Netanyahu’s recent behavior is outrageous. He is trying to push us into a war that is not in our national interest, a war that would only further destabilize a region that is already teetering near chaos. He is trying to get us to damage our relations with the rest of the world especially the Russians and Chinese, whom we spent great diplomatic effort luring into the Iranian economic sanctions so that he can pursue a strategy that even the Israeli military and intelligence communities find questionable.”  
Klein writes that, “When I take my annual road trips, I very rarely hear people mention Iran at all and those who do mention it are Jews concerned for the future of Israel. That is a legitimate concern: I’m worried, too as much by the aggressive Likud delusion of a Greater Israel, which its neighbors will inevitably see as a threat, as I am by Iran’s offensive behavior … The truth is, Iran is a political issue more than a national security challenge. It has achieved the prominence in the current debate that it has because Bibi Netanyahu and his neoconservative pals have made it an issue, because twisted American zillionaires like Sheldon Adelson have bought politicians to promote it, because Jewish organizations like AIPAC and the ADL and the AJC have conflated Israel’s national security with our own and their perceptions of Israel’s long-term national security are, I believe, grievously flawed.”  
Klein concludes: “Think about it. What if David Cameron was pushing us to go to war with Argentina over the Falklands? What if India were interfering with the American presidential campaign in order to promote an attack on Pakistan? When was the last time a foreign leader tried to influence an American political campaign? … Netanyahu is doing two things that should be intolerable for any patriotic American: he is a foreigner trying to influence our presidential campaign and he is a foreigner trying to shove us into a war of choice in a region where far too many Americans have already tied needlessly.”  
The Jerusalem Report (Oct. 22, 2012) described Netanyahu’s role as “meddling in America’s internal affairs.” It quoted New Yorker editor David Remnick who said that it was “hard to overestimate the risks that Benjamin Netanyahu poses to the future of his own country.” And former New York Times editor Bill Keller who slammed the “crude intervention in our politics.”  
In reality, The Report argues, Netanyahu’s intervention in the campaign had less to do with Iran than with a fear that a second Obama administration would put pressure upon Israel to resolve the Palestinian question: “… the reason Netanyahu has been sticking his neck out for Romney is not Iran but Palestine. He is deeply concerned that if reelected, Obama will press hard for significant movement on the Palestinian track. Indeed, he said as much in a recent closed meeting with Likud hardliners. And if, in the American context, Netanyahu once acknowledged that he ‘speaks Republican,’ on the Palestinian issue, Romney speaks the language of the Likud. … Formally, Netanyahu is committed to the two-state solution … But everything he has done … shows he doesn’t really believe in it, and his commitment was made only to keep Obama and the rest of the international community at bay.”  
Newsweek columnist Peter Beinart points out that, “Netanyahu has been brazenly intervening in American politics … since long before he became obsessed with Iran … In 1989, as Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Netanyahu pushed Congress so hard to scuttle the nascent dialogue between the U.S. and the PLO that James Baker briefly had him banned from the State Department … In his memoir, Dennis Ross recalls that after Netanyahu’s first meeting with Bill Clinton as prime minister, Clinton remarked in bewilderment, ‘He thinks he is the superpower and we are here to do what he requires.’ … It’s one thing to pressure an American president into backing down on the peace process. It’s another to pressure him into attacking another country … Americans do not want Iran to go nuclear, but this is a country weary of war. And, increasingly, it is a country weary of Netanyahu as well.” •

< return to article list
© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.