The Destructive Diplomatic Signal of Obama’s Open Mic Mistake

An exchange at the recent 2011 G20 summit between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Obama, captured on microphones the two thought were not yet turned on, offered the world a small window on their views of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In this unintentional broadcast, Sarkozy labeled Netanyahu a “liar,” to which Obama replied, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you.”

These Bullet Bytes put Obama’s remark in important context:

  • Whether or not Bibi Netanyahu is hard to “deal with” is of course not the issue. (He may be, but the issue is not Bibi.)
  • This Sarkozy-Obama exchange really is about the struggle in the Middle East between Israel and her enemies, especially at the moment the Palestinians, who are engaged in a very political, public campaign for statehood, and expanded stature in the world.
  • Historically of course the U.S. has initiated and assisted in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, targeting outcomes that involve the safety and security of Israel, and the creation of a Palestinian state if Israel’s safety and security is agreed to.
  • For a short, exceptional and truly informative video on the history of the land we now call Israel and the Middle East, that includes the number of times since 1920 that the Palestinians have been offered a state of their own, and have rejected it, go here.
  • Notwithstanding those facts, the Palestinians portray their “stateless” status as the result of Israel’s supposed mistreatment of them, while simultaneously refusing to agree Israel has the right to exist, and engaging in unrelenting attacks on Israel, both physically and through malicious vitriol that stirs up the passions of the ill-informed. (A catalogue of those attacks is here.)
  • It sounds like Sarkozy and Obama are saying that they are tired of the fight for what is right, tired of Israel defending itself. They see the Palestinians demands as too hard to fight against any longer, and the only question is how to make Israel concede.
  • Palestinian demands for the world’s support are being played out in the U.N., where the Security Council will discuss the Palestinian bid for membership later this month. International recognition of the Palestinians as a quasi-nation that would result from a yes vote in the U.N. could enhance their credibility as they continue to sing the “we are the victims and Israel is the bully” song while also continuing to attack, malign and deny Israel’s right to exist.
  • This Palestinian denial of Israel’s right to be has, not surprisingly, caused the peace process to break down more than once. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke this year of his refusal to accept a Jewish state. Why would Israel make concessions to an enemy that does not think Israel should exist?
  • While some hope/claim that it is only the Palestinian leaders who are so hateful, polls show not just the leaders, but the Palestinian people, do not agree Israel has the right to exist, and support armed attack of Israeli citizens. Only 8 percent of Palestinians would support the adoption of a school curriculum that recognizes the state of Israel. Simply, Israel is being asked to negotiate with her intended destroyers.
  • The historical falsehood that passes for impassioned truth-- that Israel is “occupying” Palestinian land -- is a modern myth, propagated and nourished by the international chorus of Palestinian supporters, Israel haters and the felony-level uninformed. Again, go here to learn the history of this land.
  • Can’t Israel “buy” peace by conceding more land? For an accounting of the dismal failure of conceding land as a means of bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, read this.
  • Israel survives as a stronghold of Western-style societal freedom, representative democracy, and protection of human rights, surrounded by hostile neighbors whose nations represent and embrace none of these. The Arab Spring that led to the empowering of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations has magnified Israel’s isolation and peril.
  • Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s 2005 call for Israel to be wiped off the map was denounced, but comments of that nature from imams, and other religious leaders in the Middle East reveal the depth of the enduring mindless hatred and determination to fight for Israel’s extinction. Ahmadinejad repeated similar threats in 2008, in a widely circulated video.
  • The unprincipled seeker of peace could assess the relentless attacks on and hatred of Israel by her neighbors, and arrive at the conclusion, as much of the left-leaning world has, that things could be so easily resolved if Israel would just give up…just concede. Just go away.
  • The U.S. is the only country in the world militarily capable of protecting Israel, and of keeping her enemies at bay.
  • It is in this context that Obama’s microphone mistake must be reviewed. While dismissed as a mere personality driven observation (he just doesn’t like Bibi) to the extent it emboldens Israel’s enemies and those millions of irrational anti-Semites in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, it was a most unfortunate error.
  • Obama’s snubbing of Netanyahu during the latter’s visit to the U.S. last year was widely observed. It was seen as a rebuke of the Israeli decision to continue to pursue construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians oppose. Letting the Palestinians dictate what Israel should do in the name of seeking peace, especially after the Israeli’s have conceded land to the Palestinians only to be met with further abuse and attacks by them, falls short of the standard of standing strong with an ally.
  • President Obama has spoken favorably about America’s support of Israel, and he needs to be held accountable to stand for her within the international community, whether or not his mic is on.

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