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Netanyahu’s Lecturing Obama ad drives a wedge Pelosi says doesn’t exist

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Oh nostalgia! You’ve surely heard about Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest ad that shows him lecturing Barack Obama in the White House eight years ago and says it’s a sign of Netanyahu’s strength.

The ad features the encounter between Obama and the Prime Minister in May 2011 right after Obama dared to suggest that the ’67 lines were the basis for negotiation. Netanyahu trashes Palestinians in the ad, which is an excerpt of the PBS documentary, “Netanyahu at War:”

PBS Voiceover: “This time Netanyahu would lecture Obama, taking a hard line on the peace process.”

Netanyahu to Obama: “It’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen. And I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians, it’s not going to happen.”

Ben Rhodes: “I’ve never a foreign leader seen a speak to the president like that and certainly not in public. I’ve certainly never seen it in the Oval Office.”

Netanyahu: “Israel obviously can’t be expected to negotiate with a government that is backed by the Palestinian version of al Qaeda.

Peter Baker, New York Times: “You’re watching the president there, his face in his hand, and you can tell it’s not going over well. It’s his house and to be lectured in his office rankles.”

Netanyahu to Obama: “You cannot go back to the 1967 lines. Because these lines are indefensible.”

Dennis Ross: Bill Daley is standing next to me and he’s going, “Outrageous. Outrageous.”

The ad ends with a campaign message: “Netanyahu, Right. Strong.”

The ad has horrified liberal Israel supporters. J Street:

. has built his re-election campaign on racism, fear-mongering and outrageous smears. Now his new ad highlights his disrespect for and contempt for the peace process. Is this the bipartisanship was touting this week?

Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes also mentions racism and Palestinians:

Democrats have to reckon with the fact that the Prime Minister of Israel has a political brand built on fear, racism, open-ended subjugation of Palestinians and gleeful disrespect for Democrats.

The ad is particularly uncomfortable because everyone in the Democratic congressional leadership says that Israel must not become a partisan issue– but they have nothing bad to say about Netanyahu. Nancy Pelosi insisted on this dream at the rightwing lobby group AIPAC early this week:

Our pledge remains the same. Israel and America are connected now and forever. We will never allow anyone to make Israel a wedge issue. That pledge is proudly honored in this Congress where support for Israel remains ironclad and bipartisan.

Liberal Zionists like J Street share the hope that Israel won’t become a partisan issue, because a wedge threatens Israel’s support in the U.S. Dylan Williams of J Street has challenged the rightwing branch of the Israel lobby to speak out and hold things together:

Do & really have nothing to say about ‘s campaign ad boasting about disrespecting President Obama? If they truly cared about bipartisanship on Israel, they’d take a break from their own progressive bashing to call out such contempt quickly & forcefully.

The ad is a good reminder of something. Netanyahu bashes Obama because Israelis hate Obama! And they love Trump! Liberal Zionists want to deny that. Just as Ben Rhodes doesn’t want to remind us that Obama had to swallow that humiliation in 2011. Obama was running for reelection. Obama had vetoed the settlements resolution at the U.N. Security Council just a month before, catering to Netanyahu and the Israel lobby.

Now we’re in a Humpty Dumpty situation. This week even the New York Times says the Democratic consensus on Israel is falling apart– in some large measure because people of color don’t buy apartheid and religious nationalism. As Matt Duss of the Sanders campaign says, addressing the Democratic base:

Netanyahu’s racist campaign now includes this ad about how he disrespected the first black president in his own house.

The election in Israel is producing even greater strain for the old consensus. If Netanyahu wins, then progressives will use him as a punching bag in the presidential race. And if Netanyahu loses and Israel doesn’t change its conduct one bit, the liberal Zionist claim that it’s all Netanyahu’s fault will crumble.

This post initially said that the lecture took place in March 2011. It’s been corrected to May. 

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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7 Responses

  1. HarryLaw on March 29, 2019, 2:19 pm

    It is tempting to hope the opposition use these quotes about Netanyahu, but they are as bad as him.
    So when Bill Clinton met the much-debated Netanyahu in the summer of 1996, Netanyahu tried to pull him over the Zionist position. Netanyahu, as usual, attempted to do his Talmudic magic on Clinton, but this time it didn’t seem to work. Clinton responded with outrage:
    “Who the fuck does he think he is? Who’s the fucking superpower here?”
    Sarkozy to Obama ….”I cannot stand him. He’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama. The US president responded by saying: “You’re fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day.”

  2. JanetB on March 29, 2019, 7:16 pm


    You have a typo in the sentence below, what year was it.

    Just as Ben Rhodes doesn’t want to remind us that Obama had to swallow that humiliation in 201.

    • annie on March 29, 2019, 11:34 pm

      thanks janet, got it. the year was 2011.

      speaking of obama swallowing humiliation, this was netanyahu getting payback for having to go back to israel humiliated the year before. i wrote about that in “Who put charming the Israeli public at the top of Prez’s To-do list?”

      Remember when Obama went off to have dinner with his kids and left Netanyahu to chill in the Roosevelt Room til he came up with an alternative to “Jerusalem is not a settlement” during the AIPAC fiasco?

      the response prompted calls from the american jewish community for obama to go to israel and make it all better. “He’s lost the Israeli public. If he were to go over there and explain to the Israeli public, it would be hugely beneficial to his objectives.”

      here’s how haaretz put it:

      But then calamity struck. At their White House meeting, Obama made clear to his guest that the letter Netanyahu had sent was insufficient and returned it for further corrections. Instead of a reception as a guest of honor, Netanyahu was treated as a problem child, an army private ordered to do laps around the base for slipping up at roll call.

      and all of this was preceded by that first trip, when obama wanted to talk about settlements and netanyahu pressed obama on a timetable/deadline on iran. that went over like a lead brick

  3. Kay24 on March 29, 2019, 9:20 pm

    Netanyahu is a sleazy, corrupt man, who is notorious for being a liar, and he belongs in the International Criminal Courts, to answer to all the war crimes perpetrated by the Israeli military, under his premiership.

    If the Democrats had good conscience, and was truly loyal to Obama, one of their own, they would be outraged about this. It is time the Democrats stopped supporting this vile racist man.
    He has interfered in our country, caused so much of trouble for Obama, tried to sabotage the Iran Nuclear Agreement, and they should stop their shameless devotion to him AND Israel. This is disgusting to say the least. To use that video clip to impress his naive people is gutter tactics. No wonder Bibi and Trump are good buddies – two sleazy leaders, corrupt to the bone.

    For someone who is about to be indicted, a man who kills Palestinians without hesitation and a war criminal, he has some chutzpah putting out such an insulting ad.

    How about this Nancy and Chucky? This okay for you too?

  4. Misterioso on March 30, 2019, 10:15 am

    I can’t resist. Well worth revisiting.

    Netanyahu, the shyster:

    Videos: July 17, 2010

    Bibi:…”The Arabs are currently focusing on a war of terror and they think it will break us. The main thing, first of all, is to hit them. Not just one blow, but blows that are so painful that the price will be too heavy to be borne. The price is not too heavy to be borne, now. A broad attack on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to the point of being afraid that everything is collapsing…”

    “Woman: Wait a moment, but then the world will say ‘how come you’re conquering again?’

    Netanyahu: “The world won’t say a thing. The world will say we’re defending.”
    Woman: “Aren’t you afraid of the world, Bibi?”

    Netanyahu: “Especially today, with America. I know what America is. America is something that can easily be moved. Moved to the right direction.”

    Child: “They say they’re for us, but, it’s like…”

    Netanyahu: “They won’t get in our way. They won’t get in our way.”

    Child: “On the other hand, if we do some something, then they…”

    Netanyahu: “So let’s say they say something. So they said it! They said it! 80% of the Americans support us. It’s absurd. We have that kind of support and we say ‘what will we do with the…’ Look. That administration [Clinton] was extremely pro-Palestinian. I wasn’t afraid to maneuver there. I was not afraid to clash with Clinton. I was not afraid to clash with the United Nations. I was paying the price anyway, I preferred to receive the value. Value for the price.”

    In the following segment, Bibi boasts about how he emptied the Oslo Accords of meaning by an interpretation that made a mockery of them:

    Woman: “The Oslo Accords are a disaster.”

    Netanyahu: “Yes. You know that and I knew that…The people [nation] has to know…”

    “What were the Oslo Accords? The Oslo Accords, which the Knesset signed, I was asked, before the elections: ‘Will you act according to them?’ and I answered: ‘yes, subject to mutuality and limiting the retreats.’ “But how do you intend to limit the retreats?” “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines. How did we do it?”

    Narrator: “The Oslo Accords stated at the time that Israel would gradually hand over territories to the Palestinians in three different pulses, unless the territories in question had settlements or military sites. This is where Netanyahu found a loophole.”

    Netanyahu: “No one said what defined military sites. Defined military sites, I said, were security zones. As far as I’m concerned, the Jordan Valley is a defined military site.”

    Woman: “Right [laughs]… The Beit She’an Valley.”

    Netanyahu: “How can you tell. How can you tell? But then the question came up of just who would define what Defined Military Sites were. I received a letter — to me and to Arafat, at the same time — which said that Israel, and only Israel, would be the one to define what those are, the location of those military sites and their size. Now, they did not want to give me that letter, so I did not give the Hebron Agreement. I stopped the government meeting, I said: ‘I’m not signing.’ Only when the letter came, in the course of the meeting, to me and to Arafat, only then did I sign the Hebron Agreement. Or rather, ratify it, it had already been signed. Why does this matter? Because at that moment I actually stopped the Oslo Accord.”

    Woman: “And despite that, one of our own people, excuse me, who knew it was a swindle, and that we were going to commit suicide with the Oslo Accord, gives them — for example — Hebron…”

    Netanyahu: “Indeed, Hebron hurts. It hurts. It’s the thing that hurts. One of the famous rabbis, whom I very much respect, a rabbi of Eretz Yisrael, he said to me: ‘What would your father say?’ I went to my father. Do you know a little about my father’s position?”

    “He’s not exactly a lily-white dove, as they say. So my father heard the question and said: ‘Tell the rabbi that your grandfather, Rabbi Natan Milikowski, was a smart Jew. Tell him it would be better to give two percent than to give a hundred percent. And that’s the choice here. You gave two percent and in that way you stopped the withdrawal. Instead of a hundred percent.’ The trick is not to be there and be broken. The trick is to be there and pay a minimal price.”

    “At a point in the middle of the video Netanayhu asks the camera man to stop taping, but he continues…

    “Netanyahu says what he really thinks for the first time:

    “He brags about how easy is to manipulate the USA and he proudly explains how he sabotaged the Oslo process.”

    • Kay24 on March 30, 2019, 8:02 pm

      Still Pelosi, Schumer, Hoyer, Menendez, Lindsay Graham, McConnell, and the majority of American leaders, love him, despite his arrogance, and corruption, sometimes even at the expense of their own country. He is a hateful man, who, just like Trump, lies very easily.

  5. iResistDe4iAm on March 30, 2019, 11:29 am

    Reminder of Obama’s Legacy…

    Change We HE Can Believe In

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