Oh boy, the Israeli elections are over. And I’m really glad. Not for the sake of Israelis who had to live with the puffery and worse of their politicians, and not for Bibi, but for my sake and the sake of others who attempt to follow Israeli events.
We in the States were not immune from the same coverage that dominated Israel’s newspapers and television programs. From the New York Times and Washington Post to local news stations from New York to Los Angeles, Israel’s elections received as much attention as, truth be told, a presidential election.
Bibi’s newspaper clipping service has one person to thank for the pick-up in their business—my president, Barack Obama. They owe it all to a man who singlehandedly made Bibi a household word throughout a country where people are hard-pressed to name their own state’s U.S. Senators.
Obama did it by focusing the power of his press office on Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress where he knew Bibi would clearly state his opposition to negotiations with Iran over the latter’s nuclear manipulations. The president’s attention, of course, generated even more coverage as the press focused on the alleged chutzpa of a man invited to address a joint session of the Congress instead of on the content of what his message would be.
Rather than addressing, either publicly or privately, the merits of Israel’s concerns about Iran’s march towards a nuclear weapon, Obama’s press office worked overtime to divert the American public’s attention away from the negotiations and Netanyahu’s airing of Iran’s dirty laundry as a sponsor of terrorism and its responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of Americans throughout the Middle East. I cannot recall any similar effort by an American president.
At the end of the day, Obama’s efforts were a cheap trick. It was the kind of sleight of hand used over the centuries by demagogues, petty dictators and autocrats to distract their citizens from real issues. We in America deserved better than we got, and I hope to never see it repeated.