Shmuley Boteach

For Obama, Bibi’s words matter while Iran’s don’t

Obama seems unperturbed when Ayatollah Khameini threatens Israel's annihilation and says death to America

President Obama says that Bibi’s words matter when it comes to a Palestinian state. “We take him at his word when he said that it wouldn’t happen during his prime ministership,” he told The Huffington Post. The President used Netanyahu’s statement as cause for a “reassessment” of American ties with Israel.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest echoed the sentiment in last Thursday’s White House briefing that the Prime Minister’s words could bring punishment. “Words matter,” he said. There could be “consequences” for Netanyahu’s statements. “Everybody who’s in a position to speak on behalf of their government understands that that’s the case, and particularly when we’re talking about a matter as serious as this one.”

So let’s get this straight. When foreign leaders speak, it matters. What they say is consequential. Bibi’s going to have to pay for his remarks.

But I have one question. Why doesn’t any of this apply to Iran? Why, on Saturday Ayatollah Ali Khameini uttered the words “Death to America” even as John Kerry was expressing optimism the very same day that the United States would come to a nuclear accord with Iran!

Suddenly, Iran’s words don’t matter?

Taking this further, the most hair-raising aspect about the growing American rapprochement with Iran is that it has all happened while Iran has continued to repeatedly threaten the annihilation of the Jewish people. Ayatollah Khameini has called Jews dogs and tweeted as recently as this past November that “there is no cure for Israel other than annihilation.”

Now, if words matter, how can the United States continue to speak to his government while they are openly threatening a second holocaust? Why did President Obama and John Kerry not establish a repudiation of these genocidal words and threats as a precondition for any talks?

The hypocrisy is startling. And it leads to a more important point.

By now it’s clear to all that President Obama positively loathes Prime Minister Netanyahu more any other world leader. His hostility to the Prime Minister has become so pronounced that the President can no longer disguise or control it.

Am I the only one that finds it just a touch unseemly for the leader of the free world to hate the leader of the only free country in the Middle East?

The President has a good relationship with Erdogan, the tyrant of Turkey, who has destroyed his nation’s democracy and allows fighters to pass through his nation to join ISIS. President Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia to pay his personal condolences upon the passing of arch-misogynist King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a man who wouldn’t even allow women to drive a car. And he utters not an unkind word about Ayatollah Khameini, the world’s foremost terrorist.

But he hates Netanyahu. Go figure.

For years we Americans have heard that our President is cerebral and unflappable. That he famously remains cool under the most challenging circumstances. It turns out that this is true for every world leader except one, Benjamin Netanyahu, who makes the President’s blood boil.

Don’t we deserve to know why?

If the two leaders merely had bad personal chemistry, I could understand. They’re not the best of friends. Fine. But for Obama the hatred of Netanyahu has become positively visceral, personal, and irrepressible.

My own belief is this. President Obama is desperate for some foreign policy victories. There’s a year-and-a-half left to his Presidency and the world is on fire. From Iran to Boko Haram to ISIS to Putin to Hezbollah to Al Qaida and Hamas, bad guys are running amok under this president. American Foreign policy is a shambles.

The only ally President Obama can truly expert pressure on for a deal that would give him the lasting foreign policy legacy he needs and craves is Israel. And in the past Israeli Prime Ministers have proven so utterly malleable. American Presidents have squeezed them like lemons.

But Bibi refuses to be squeezed. He won’t play ball. He won’t withdraw from Judea and Samaria and allow “Hamastan” on his eastern border the way it is in Gaza. He won’t shut up about America’s capitulation to the Iranian mullahs that would leave them with a military-grade nuclear program. He won’t go quietly into the nuclear night while America appeases one of the most violent and vile regimes on earth.

This darned Bibi guy just won’t bend.

And our President finds the intransigence so utterly frustrating.

He prayed and hoped that someone else might win the Israeli election. And some of the President’s top political operatives went and worked for Herzog. But, huff and puff as he might, the President could not blow Bibi’s house down.

So now he’s stuck with him. A stick-necked Prime Minister, getting in the way of the President’s peace deals with Iran and the Palestinians.

And with no way of getting rid of the Israeli nuisance, all the President can do is continue to give interviews that express his dislike and frustration, not realizing that we’re reaching a point where the President is beginning to look positively un-Presidential and where is enmity is becoming unbecoming.

It’s called democracy, Mr. President. Bibi won. And it’s time for the world’s foremost democracy, the United States of America, to live with it and work with the man who has the mandate of the Israeli people, just as you have the mandate of the American people.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbis,” whom Newsweek and The Washington Post call “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is an award-winning columnist and the international best-selling author of 30 books, including his most recent, “Kosher Lust.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.


About the Author
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the founder of This World: The Values Network. He is the author of Judaism for Everyone and 30 other books, including his most recent, Kosher Lust. Follow him on Twitter@RabbiShmuley.
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