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Huh– Obama deals with Netanyahu ‘every day’ but does not talk to Palestinian leader?

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The most important parts of the overheard Sarkozy-Obama dialogue in which the French leader called Netanyahu a “liar” are Obama’s confessions about Netanyahu’s access to him and his distance from the Palestinians.

“You’re fed up with him, what about me? I have to deal with him every day,” Obama said.

And: “You [Sarkozy] have to pass the message along to the Palestinians that they must stop this [U.N. efforts] immediately.”

Why does Obama have to deal with Netanyahu every day? Why doesn’t he talk to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader?

In September, the New York Times’ Mark Landler reported that Obama had not talked to Abbas since February, 7 months.

In the Reuters account of the November 3 “liar” dialogue, Obama appeals to Sarkozy visavis the Palestinians:

“I didn’t appreciate your way of presenting things over the Palestinian membership of UNESCO. It weakened us. You should have consulted us, but that is now behind us,” Obama was quoted as saying.

Obama told Sarkozy that he was worried about the impact if Washington had to pull funding from other U.N. bodies such as the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the IAEA nuclear watchdog if the Palestinians gained membership there.

“You have to pass the message along to the Palestinians that they must stop this immediately,” Obama said.

Let’s be clear: this is about the role of the Israel lobby in our politics, the president’s need to fawn to an Israeli leader, even a rightwing leader. It’s happened before, in 1999-2000. “[Bill] Clinton’s willingness to take every phone call from Prime Minister [Ehud] Barak–at times on an almost daily basis, the study group was told–devalued the president’s latent power and denied Clinton the critical distance that a president often must have when dealing with detailed and nuanced policy problems,” Dan Kurtzer and Scott Lasensky wrote in Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace (based on a study group that included Bill Quandt, Shibley Telhami and Stephen Spiegel). “[T]he power of the presidency was devalued.”

The power of Obama’s presidency has also been devalued. He came in indicating that he would listen to the Palestinian side of things. He referred openly to “occupation” in his Cairo speech of ’09. All that is over. He has to talk to Netanyahu every day because he must keep the lobby happy, for the 2012 election.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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16 Responses

  1. iamuglow on November 9, 2011, 11:36 am

    A very curious thing happened to that quote

    “I have to deal with him every day”

    On many news stories, including a Reuters story that was on Yahoo news, it was changed to something like ‘I have to deal with a lot’. Many of the commentors picked up on it and were wondering what was the reasoning behind it being changed.

    “I have to deal with him every day” could open the door to talk about the oversized influence of the IL over the POTUS…and IMO that is why it was changed. chilling, really.

    • annie on November 9, 2011, 12:35 pm

      it was changed to something like ‘I have to deal with a lot’

      i have not noticed this. interesting.

    • DICKERSON3870 on November 9, 2011, 5:07 pm

      RE: “Many of the commentors picked up on it and were wondering what was the reasoning behind it being
      changed.” ~ iamuglow

      MY REPLY: The problem appears to be that only a French language website originally dared to report this. That report was in French about what Obama had said in English (translated into French). Then the original report in French (about what Obama had said in English (translated into French)) was translated into English.
      Since that time, English-speaking reporters who heard Obama’s comment (but had decided not to report it) have begun to say what they recall having heard Obama say (in English) without the series of (mis?)translations.

      SEE: Sarkozy tells truth about Netanyahu but press decide it’s too sensitive to report

      • iamuglow on November 9, 2011, 6:14 pm

        That would be an innocent explanation..BUT from the link you mentions two variations of the translation and neither is what was reported in the US press.

        “Even now, now that the Sarkozy-Obama indiscretion has leaked out, there are several variations of translation of what Obama said.

        “You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day.” “You’ve had enough of him? I have to deal with him every day!”

        These are different ways of translating “Tu en as marre de lui, mais moi, je dois traiter avec lui tous les jours !” That’s how Obama’s words were rendered on

        All the media seem to be quoting the same source, Reuters and I suppose thats where question lies…if its incorrect translation…how come they havent issued a correction?

      • DICKERSON3870 on November 13, 2011, 1:41 am

        P.S. FROM URI AVNERY, 11/11/11

        (excerpt)…I must say something about the media angle of this affair.
        The dialogue was broadcast live to a group of senior French media people, because somebody forgot to turn the microphone off. A piece of luck of the kind that journalists dream about.
        Yet not one of the journalists in the hall published a word about it. They kept it to themselves and only told it to their colleagues, who told it to their friends, one of whom told it to a blogger, who published it.
        Why? Because the senior journalists who were present are friends and confidants of the people in power. That’s how they get their scoops. The price is suppressing any news that might hurt or embarrass their sponsors. This means in practice that they become lackeys of the people in power – betraying their elementary democratic duty as servants of the public…

        SOURCE –

  2. Pamela Olson on November 9, 2011, 12:47 pm

    I’m assuming they were speaking in English? If so, there should be no ambiguity about exactly what he said.

    • iamuglow on November 9, 2011, 1:07 pm

      The BBC site has it as

      “Mr Obama did not disagree, saying: “You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day.”

      Fox news and most American sources as far as I can tell have

      “I have to deal with him even more often than you”

      • on November 9, 2011, 1:15 pm

        soon they will change to :”He was sick ,and I had to help him”.
        or , “I have to dance with him even more often than you “, ( meaning some secret ,”dance with the politicians” show, that we don’t know yet).

        P.S. Not mentioned, but probably added too: “and he is stepping on my feet constantly. I’m fed up with it.”

  3. on November 9, 2011, 1:09 pm

    If only people knew, what was really going on behind “the curtains”.
    It looks like those “behind the curtains ” are also not quite happy-go-lucky dudes. There is a Big Dude above them, whom they are not too fond of.
    Who is that Dude ,and why are they not too fond of him??
    BTW, why are they afraid of him?? Is he the One, who calls the ultimate shots? The Utter Dude?

    • Citizen on November 9, 2011, 4:19 pm

      It’s been noticed, but not by Dick and Jane, that a whole host of present and former Western world leaders are very sick of the annoying Bibi N and his constant lying like a rug–here’s a few of them:

      He’s the great communicator but really only for a narrow group of people in the big scheme of things. Humility is not Bibi’s trademark; it’s, what else? “Chootspah”–Michelle Bachman and John McCain love Bibi’s chutzpah so much they’ve called fro Sarkozy & Obama to publicly apologize to Bibi. Dennis Ross may yet convince Obama he needs to do this if he wants a second term to achieve whatever he wants–a feathered nest for the rest of his life is what it look like.

    • Avi_G. on November 10, 2011, 12:10 am

      The Utter Dude?

      I thought only cows had udders. No?

  4. on November 9, 2011, 6:03 pm

    Are you kidding me?? Bachman and McCain already called for a public apology?? Maybe lady Michelle ma belle, can bake some cookies ,and offer them to “poor Bibi”. And Johnny McCain can help him to eat them.
    What a bunch of sleazy snakes.

  5. Theo on November 10, 2011, 9:04 am

    I am lucky to be able to speak several langauges and am exasperated hearing translations from professional translators.
    They say constantly something different than the person speaking, so I do not wonder at the different translations from Obama/Sarkozy téte a téte.

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