Those pesky in-laws always show up at the worst time, don’t they?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother-in-law Dr. Hagai Ben-Artzi on Wednesday called U.S. President Barack Obama an anti-Semite in an interview with Army Radio.
“It’s not that Obama doesn’t like Bibi,” he referring to Netanyahu using his nickname. “He doesn’t like the nation of Israel.”
Netanyahu was quick to distance himself from Ben-Artzi’s remarks, saying he completely disagrees with his brother-in-law.
Netanyahu said he has a deep appreciation for President Obama’s commitment to Israel’s security, which he has expressed many times, and also for the deep ties between the two countries.[…]
He went on to say that Obama’s anti-Semitism stems from years of indoctrination by controversial preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom Obama distanced himself from during the election campaign.
“When there is an anti-Semitic president in the United States, it is a test for us and we have to say: We will not concede. We are a nation dating back 4,000 years, and you in a year or two will be long forgotten. Who will remember you? But Jerusalem will dwell on forever.”
Ben-Artzi added that Netanyahu is aware of his views, but declined to say what the two discuss in private conversations.
On Tuesday a group of far-right activists announced their plan to hang hundreds of posters across the country depicting Obama under the headline “agent of the PLO.” The banner is already on display in the office of National Union MK Michael Ben Ari.
Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last year stirred tension in Israel and the U.S. regarding the president’s new policy towards the Middle East, and created the impression that he was biased towards Arab countries, as he began with the Arab saying “salaam alaykum.”
And this ridiculous position is where the right wing, which is part of Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, stands in Israel. Haaretz’ Carlos Stenger describes the paths in front of Netanyahu.
This bold move requires Netanyahu to work against his instinct to preserve his long-term alliance with right wing parties. He will have to stop being afraid of ruining his relationship with Shas, because he must begin to understand that he may not get another chance to form a government. He will have to appreciate that is little value in preserving the possibility for future cooperation with Lieberman, because he is now up against history; not potential coalition parties in ten years.
If he has arrived at this point, he may go for the bold move. He may burn the bridges behind him, knowing that there is nothing to go back to. He may try to overcome the personal animosity that has evolved between him and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, and to go for a coalition that will allow him to make difficult choices: to dismantle settlements, and to truly move towards rescuing the two-state solution that his right-wing coalition partners are trying to make impossible by creating ever more facts on the ground. Yes, he may lose some of his right-wing Likud “rebels.” Yes, he may even have to call for left-wing Meretz to join the coalition if enough of his party members defect. And he may try to make the historical move that can save Israel as a democracy with a Jewish majority.
Or he may opt to continue doing what he has done until now: trying to gain some more time; to galvanize the Christian hard core in the U.S. to stop the Obama administration from pressuring Israel; to hope that AIPAC will mobilize Congress against the administration and try to keep his current coalition together for the sole purpose of staying in power. If so, he will go down in history as a man who simply didn’t have it in him to jump over his own shadow.
We can negotiate with one coalition, we cannot work with the other. Its up to the direction set by Netanyahu’s leadership from here out.