On Benjamin Netanyahu’s way to ruining what remains of American-Israeli cooperation of 67 years, most folks do not have a clue as to the man who made it all possible. His name is Frank Luntz. He is the man responsible for Ron Dermer, otherwise known as “Israel’s Ambassador to the United States.” Dermer is one of Frank Luntz’s successful placements. Ambassador Dermer is also Benjamin Netanyahu’s election whisperer. He has advised the Prime Minister for years. The problem with this individual controlling what was once a democratic process answers, to some extent, the dilemma of how Israel recently became so embroiled in American politics and vice versa. No one ever elects pollsters to office, much less gives them free reign to control a particular party’s message, but in a few short years, that is precisely what has transpired in both American and Israeli politics. It all relates back to Frank Luntz. In reality, what Frank Luntz does is shill for the Republican party. He is a Republican pollster who has managed to insinuate politics with his own brand of a “vision”, but no one really should pay the price for this interference, least of all the citizens of Israel. His background is in advertising, hardly an endorsement for good governance.
The fact that Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama do not get along is a gross understatement. The reasons are not that transparent. Both leaders are strong advocates of democracy. Both want the best for their citizens. Both leaders recognize that our respective countries’ security rests in cooperation with each other. The divergence in worldview by these two leaders happens in the execution of those goals. I suspect that the primary reason for all the balagan today between our two leaders can be laid directly at the feet of Frank Luntz and Ron Dermer. Politicians are supposed to represent their constituencies to the best of their abilities; but it should be noted that no one ever elected Ron Dermer or Frank Luntz to elected office.
At first blush post-election, it appeared that President Obama would continue in the policies of his predecessor; but with one too-low bow to a Saudi “king” and a rousing speech delivered in Egypt, all bets were off. Since politics is all about appearances and perceptions, the view by the general populace of Israel is that the new American President was not interested in Israel’s survival or in maintaining the status quo; otherwise, Obama’s first official trip to the Middle East as President would have been to Jerusalem. Several false starts at peace negotiations and anti-Israel rhetoric by Administration officials, both on the record and caught on “hot mics” have not helped matters and have been directly aided and abetted by the Luntz/Dermer axis of interference that is not healthy for the survival of the State of Israel.
The question we should all be asking ourselves is this: Why did the Republicans issue an invitation directly to Benjamin Netanyahu to come speak before Congress without the President being informed or asked as protocol dictates? Whose purpose does it serve to antagonize the President who still wields a mighty veto pen over legislation? When Obama won his second term of office, Republicans made it quite clear that they would do everything in their power to thwart his legislative agenda. This attitude has seeped into their machinations over his diplomatic efforts; however, “cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face” is hardly the way to effectively govern millions of people. The Obama Administration now disingenuously claims that Netanyahu should not appear before Congress so that the Americans do not appear to have interfered in election cycles in foreign countries, but that is patently false. They do it all the time and moreover, they have done it here. Mitt Romney came before the last election for the simple reason that they wanted American Jewish money to follow the Republican Party to victory. That fact alone should offend Jews everywhere, but for some odd reason, it does not.
It is no accident that President Obama will not be able to get much done in the remaining years of his Presidency. The well of American politics has been profoundly and permanently poisoned by wealthy conservatives who think they know what is best for America, even when their views are diametrically opposed to what the majority of those voting Americans want their government to do. Israel, to a lesser extent, finds itself in the same camp. And as long as people like Republican shillmaster Frank Luntz dictate Israeli policy via his acolytes, things do not look good for the final two years of the Obama presidency, nor for continued cooperation between our two countries to thrive as they historically would without the taint of Republican party minions.
Republicans famously ignore Democrats and everything they try to achieve. The spirit of cooperation between the two parties is now moribund. It would be best for us not to ignore the Republican elephant in the room of Israel’s politics and to find a way to extricate ourselves from its dominion over us before they have more “misunderstandings” like the Prime Minister’s planned excursion to Congress.