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Kerry isn’t satisfied by Israeli minister’s non-apology for calling Obama a wimp

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Moshe Ya'alon, Israeli Defense Minister

Moshe Ya’alon, Israeli Defense Minister

Moshe Ya’alon, the Israeli Defense minister who has called Obama “weak,” is persona non grata at the State Department. The State Department condemned his remarks two days ago, and again yesterday.

Referring to Ya’alon’s “pattern” of criticizing the United States, a State Department spokesperson said that Secretary of State John Kerry “has remaining concerns about this pattern, but we are continuing to move forward on the peace process.”

The spokesperson, Jen Psaki, was evidently not satisfied by Ya’alon’s alleged apology, as reported by the Defense Department after a March 19 call between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Ya’alon:

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed deep concern about the minister’s comments on U.S. policy towards Iran and reiterated the U.S. commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Minister Ya’alon clarified his remarks by underscoring his commitment to the strength of the U.S.-Israel relationship…

“The secretary and minister pledged to continue working closely with one another on the range of security issues facing the United States and Israel.”

The Jerusalem Post called that an apology. I did, too, in my coverage of Ya’alon yesterday. Ali Gharib says I got “hoodwinked by Yaalon. No one has reported an apology. It’s a denial, a non-apology.”

Matt Lee of AP shares Gharib’s view. Questioning Psaki at State yesterday, he said, “whether it was an apology or not, [Ya’alon] tried to make up or tried to make things better.”

Lee has suggested that the State Department should be asking whether Ya’alon should be fired. He says If there really is a special relationship between the countries, and we give Israel all this aid, why does their Defense Minister feel complete impunity about running around calling Obama “a wimp”? (Lee’s word.)

The reason Ya’alon feels impunity is that he is supported by Netanyahu and the Israel lobby. Fox News is siding with Ya’alon. It runs a piece by Zev Chafets, a former Likud spokesman (who grew up in Michigan, and who used to write for the New York Times Magazine), saying that Ya’alon speaks for Netanyahu and the US Congress.

Earlier this week, at a supposedly closed gathering at Tel Aviv University, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon bluntly voiced his lack of confidence in the Obama administration. The United States, he said, has become a weak-willed giant, unpredictable in its behavior and unreliable in its international commitments. …

“If your image is feebleness, it doesn’t pay in the world,” said Ya’alon, whose remarks were predictably leaked to the local press. “Nobody will replace the United States as global policeman. I hope the United States comes to its senses. If it doesn’t, it will upset the world order and the United States is the one that will suffer.”…

Netanyahu dutifully promised to speak to Ya’alon and get him to tone it down. But the prime minister doesn’t really disagree with his defense minister’s analysis. Netanyahu has expressed his own skepticism about the reliability of the Obama administration, especially its “trust us” assurances that multilateral diplomacy will keep Teheran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The debacle in Ukraine has only strengthened this skepticism. …

Earlier this month, large bi-partisan majorities of both houses [of Congress] dispatched letters to the president warning him not to engage in make-believe diplomacy on this issue.

They distrust the administration. Moshe Ya’alon (and his silent partner, the prime minister) let them know this week that they are right to do so.

Fox also has this piece up, Four Things America Should Learn From Israel. I wonder if they’ve got hummus in there?

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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24 Responses

  1. Chu on March 21, 2014, 1:04 pm

    The USA provides the nation Israel with billions of dollars every year, and this is how it’s treated? It doesn’t matter if Ya’alon despises the current president or not, when you lob criticism like this at the president, you are criticizing a nation, which is their only ally and central to their survival.

    The problem with the Jonestown cult is that they started to believe years ago in a recycled Manifest Destiny that’s filled them with delusions of grandeur, when in reality they are a tiny state (10,425 sq. miles) that is ranked 4th least like in the world. ( Facts are hard things.

    I can see if they were critical of the US, perhaps if they were paying us for our military technology or providing us something useful and significant. But they aren’t and all they do is criticize us while breaking international law. Something is plainly wrong here.

    • American on March 21, 2014, 2:07 pm

      The Zionist think they can get away with the insults because of the right wing’s hatred of Obama. …and the right winger fringe echos Israel for that reason.
      However there are signs that the fringers in the GOP are losing influence.
      So are the fringers in the liberals.

      • Ellen on March 21, 2014, 4:25 pm

        American, you nailed it. Ya’alon is speaking for the Istaeli government and most all Israeli’s (Just read the comments in the Israeli press on this.) This is a foreign government official attacking the US President and in turn the entire US. A government that is completely dependent upon the US. But he is protected not only Netanyahu, but also by some unhinged and treasonous members of the US Senate, such as Lindsay Graham, who’s rhetoric mirrors the Israeli FM. Senators who think it it alright for a foreign government to attack the US as long as it hurts a President they do not like.

        These guys think effective foreign policy is testosterone based.

        I say they should keep on talking, give them a long line.

  2. MHughes976 on March 21, 2014, 1:34 pm

    Obama has presided over a period when Russia has regained a bit of strength and the status of dominant regional power and when public opinion in the whole Western world has lost confidence in the interventionism of the previous decade. Neither of these can be helped. Russia couldn’t be stopped from benefiting from its oil reserves and the public couldn’t be stopped from resenting what had happened in Iraq. I believe that another long-term process is occurring – well, long-term by political standards – and that is the realisation that Iranian oil is necessary for the world economy. I’m sure that the next US President will use stronger rhetoric than Obama has done but won’t go to war with Iran either.

  3. just on March 21, 2014, 1:39 pm

    Ya’alon has indeed insulted all Americans, just like his boss and so many other ziofreaks. It is way past time to blow this charade and sickening ‘relationship’ wide open.

    Actually, the time is ripe for cutting the parasitic cord– it will do the world and the US a lot of good.

    • Chu on March 21, 2014, 2:16 pm

      The nation of Israel sits like a fattened eaglet in it nest, waiting for it’s next meal. Probably it’s past time to learn how to fly and do things on your own. Zionists talk about being so bold, but they really can’t do it without the assistance of the US. A lot of chest beating, but they never really became independent.

      • puppies on March 21, 2014, 11:55 pm

        Chu – Much as I sympathize I have to invite you not to hallucinate. The Zionists don’t have to learn becoming independent or do anything without US assistance: They. Own. The. U. S. This is officially our role. Count on them to have a solution ready if and when we look less stupid than usual.

  4. American on March 21, 2014, 2:13 pm

    The US would suffer nothing by giving up its world super cop role—but it would ruin Israel…..that is what the taunting is about.
    Israelis—monkeys beating their chest pretending to be silverbacks—but without Uncle Sam to beat up their enemies for them or buy off their enemies they are impotent.

  5. American on March 21, 2014, 2:16 pm

    Notice however that not a word of the Israeli insults to America are ever heard by the US general public in the msm.

    Actually Kerry should encourage them to insult the US more.
    More, more, more please.

    • CloakAndDagger on March 21, 2014, 7:53 pm

      @ American

      Couldn’t agree more. I hope the insults come fast and furious – enough so that the general public can’t avoid taking note. Impatiently awaiting the awakening of the masses…

      • just on March 21, 2014, 8:07 pm

        You folks might be on to something………

        Bring it on, Israeli government.

      • bilal a on March 21, 2014, 10:20 pm

        KERRY: Yes , we can all learn from the bravery of the Israeli Defense Minister . He has a long career in defending Israel against a brutal threat, he bravely employs white phosphorous munitions, modern fighter bomber jets, and artillery against a vicious foe, a foe without air defense , tanks, long range weapons of any merit, indeed without an army, indeed an occupied defenseless civilian population. Bravo to the General;s bravery, and we welcome his front line leadership in any forthcoming conflict in Syria, Iran, just as his troops fought shoulder to shoulder with our troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam.

  6. lysias on March 21, 2014, 2:34 pm

    Obama is a wimp, or he would have stopped the abuses of the national security state long ago.

    • Ellen on March 21, 2014, 5:05 pm

      Obama is no different from every other President. It is the US legislative Congress that is wimped out and paid for.

      Am no fan of Obama, but he does play the long game.

      • lysias on March 21, 2014, 5:19 pm

        JFK was not a wimp. He did his level best to stop the abuses of the national security state. Granted, that cost him his life. But the fact that he made the effort knowing the risk proves that he was not a wimp.

  7. LarryDerfner on March 21, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Evidently, Kerry read my Facebook post: “When Ya’alon publicly pisses on the Obama administration – this time by calling it “weak” – then tells its cabinet secretaries he didn’t mean any offense, and those cabinet secretaries accept his “apology,” they’re confirming his assessment that the Obama administration is weak.”

    • ritzl on March 21, 2014, 3:30 pm

      Good point, LD. It’s an Obama trait, as lysias said above. And not just on this issue…

      The issue-independent, craven-ness is for ALL to see, here and abroad.

      The upside to me is that Obama’s weak behavior provides an on-ramp to a discussion with my more conservative circle that “their guy” would have been even/vastly more craven. In a situation where a bunch of empirically-minded engineers are facing layoffs because pols, across the spectrum, can’t do what’s right for their constituencies, that has some effect. They’re starting to see the flaws in the method. Extent of the effect, TBD.

    • John Douglas on March 21, 2014, 5:07 pm

      The contrary of “weak” is “tough”. We’ve been blessed with tough presidents in the recent past. JFK, LBJ and RN were good old boys, cold war hawks, and the defeat in Viet Nam, after unimaginably tragic effects, trails their wake. Reagan was a man’s man, rode on horseback for the cameras, 241 Marines and sailors killed in Lebanon in an instant of time and he skedaddled away on ships. But Ronnie was not a man to run from the good fight so he gave us instead “Operation Urgent Fury”, the invasion of Granada. GW cleared brush on the ranch and cinched up his flight suit crotch while his good buddy Cheney missed the birds and shot his friend in the face. Enough said. We got the war against Saddam following the unrelated September 11th horror and left bin Laden to live it up in Pakistan. Iraq was a thoroughgoing defeat judged by any of the proffered reasons for its beginning. GW’s daddy had failed to get Saddam but gathered up his gonads when he put us into Somalia, leaving it to Clinton to get us out with mission unaccomplished. Then there is the “war on terror”, which we must decimate civil liberties and cross over to the dark side to wage, a war against an enemy whose weakness is matched only by mighty Granada. And yes, Obama stubbornly refuses to bomb Iran and/or Syria, leaving the Israelis inconsolable, but he’s proved his grit on this battlefield. For every drone-slaughtered terrorist we mangle, we kill far more civilians and create far more anti-America fighters. Perhaps we should set aside the question of “tough or weak” in favor of “wise or stupid”.

  8. ritzl on March 21, 2014, 3:17 pm

    New(?) definition for “unshakeable”: 1) all insults must be ignored; 2) just smile and nod, or else; 3) some degrading sexual allusion.

  9. The JillyBeans on March 21, 2014, 4:06 pm

    I think perhaps Minister Ya’lon’s idea of “weak” is his way of saying the Obama administration isn’t planning on letting Israel have it’s way. Anything other than letting the Israeli’s violate international law and UN resolutions is “weak” to them.

    • just on March 21, 2014, 4:11 pm

      Agree totally.

    • piotr on March 22, 2014, 6:01 pm

      Ironically, most of us would agree that Obama/Kerry policies are feeble. What would be more helpful is not a demand of apologies or even dismissal of Ya’alon, but a return to the demand that Israel freezes settlements, including East Jerusalem, and that the line of control 1949-1967 should be the basis of a peace settlement — something that supposedly is an official American policy, and should be an actual policy.

  10. libra on March 21, 2014, 8:37 pm

    Great photo. But is Ya’alon indicating how much Palestinian land Israel will give up in any settlement or crudely calibrating the presidential manhood?

  11. Sumud on March 21, 2014, 10:06 pm

    Big man this Moshe Ya’alon eh? He doesn’t seem to realise just how bad he’s making Israel look.

    The piss-ant nation should learn to fight it’s own wars, not expect big brother to step in. That means that you don’t bite off more than you can chew, you moderate your behaviour to maintain harmonious relations with your neighbours – something Israel seems pathologically unable to do.

    Ya’alon’s goading is right out of the schoolyard.

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