U.S. President Barack Obama told Channel 2 News on Wednesday that he believed Israel would not try to surprise the U.S. with a unilateral attack on Iran. In an interview aired Thursday evening, Obama was asked whether he was concerned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would try to attack Iran without clearing the move with the U.S., to which the president replied “I think the relationship between Israel and the U.S. is sufficiently strong that neither of us try to surprise each other, but we try to coordinate on issues of mutual concern.”
Obama spoke to Channel 2’s Yonit Levy one day after what he described as an “excellent” meeting with Netanyahu at the White House. The two leaders met alone for about 90 minutes Tuesday evening, during which time they discussed the peace process with the Palestinians, the contested Iranian nuclear program, and the strategic understandings between their two countries on Tehran’s efforts to achieve nuclear capabilities.
During the interview Wednesday, when confronted with the anxiety that some Israelis feel toward him, Obama said that “some of it may just be the fact that my middle name is Hussein, and that creates suspicion.”
“Ironically, I’ve got a Chief of Staff named Rahm Israel Emmanuel. My top political advisor is somebody who is a descendent of Holocaust survivors. My closeness to the Jewish American community was probably what propelled me to the U.S. Senate,” Obama said.
“I think that sometimes, particularly in the Middle East, there’s the feeling of the friend of my enemy must be my enemy, and the truth of the matter is that my outreach to the Muslim community is designed precisely to reduce the antagonism and the dangers posed by a hostile Muslim world to Israel and to the West,” Obama went on to say.
First he sets up the strawman– Israelis fear Obama because of his middle name– then he knocks down his own strawman– his Chief of Staff is Jewish. Not to make too much a big deal out of this, but oy vei.
A silly comment, yet perhaps revealing. It was an unguarded moment that can mean one of two things: it doesn’t come from his brain, it comes from the gut, his ego. It’s the part that reacts emotionally to slights. The mocking of his middle name by Obama haters has clearly hit home. There’s baggage there. Instead of deflecting it by self-deprecating the way Bush used to do, he projects it onto the Israelis. He’s not one to laugh at himself. We saw this same thin skin at the White House correspondents dinner. He was a riot, but his jokes were aimed at others.
That, or it reflects how poorly he thinks of the Israelis– they are racists who suffer from an irrational fear of Arabs. He essentially just called them “bitter clingers.” Their fear/hatred is emotional, not based on actual history, politics, or events. All it takes to tap into their irrational fear is the middle name “Hussein.” They get flashbacks at the mere mention of it.
In his defense, he probably thinks the Arabs are just as stupid (see his NASA goodwill tour). Our disagreements aren’t based on tangible– and often irreconcilable– differences. Our differences are emotional and irrational, and can be resolved through apology tours, goodwill tours, and confidence-building measures. Let’s make Muslims “feel good” about themselves. That’s the ticket. Peace will break out when we all realize it’s all just been a big misunderstanding.