Well, you knew this was coming. Right-wingers and neocons were going to go ballistic that Barack Obama did not properly rush to defend the honor of Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who has gone out of his way to insult Obama at virtually every opportunity.
The story goes that in front of an open mike at a G-20 summit press conference, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Netanyahu a liar, and instead of challenging Sarkozy to a duel on the spot, Obama made this reply:
“I cannot bear Netanyahu; he’s a liar,” Sarkozy told Obama in comments overheard by reporters in a separate room who were listening to a simultaneous translation.
“You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him even more often than you,” Obama replied, according to the French interpreter.
So Sarkozy, not Obama, calls Bibi a liar. Obama makes the factual statement that Sarkozy is fed up with him, and that the United States has more day-to-day relations with Israel than France.
This is just beyond the pale. The first Republican to demand an apology on Netanyahu’s behalf was Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY):
“I find President Obama’s criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu highly offensive and call on him to issue a formal apology on behalf of the American people,” Grimm said in a statement Tuesday. “Whether the microphones are on or off, the message to our allies in Israel should always remain the same: ‘We stand with you.’” […]
“President Obama’s comments are disgraceful and inappropriate coming from someone who holds the highest office in the United States,” Grimm added in the statement. “They provide a poor and inaccurate reflection of the American people he was elected to represent, and they must be rescinded.”
We are not told exactly what was disgraceful or inappropriate about accurately assessing the relationship between Sarkozy and Netanyahu and accurately assessing the level of contact between the US and Israel vis-a-vis France.
The deeper context here is that neoconservatives want to start a war with Iran, and they would be happy to see Israel drop some bombs on them to kick it off. Since international condemnation will be swift, they need one of Israel’s last remaining friends to display unshaking loyalty. Last week, neocons condemned Obama for daring to greet the leader of Turkey, because Turkey happens to have a strained relationship with Israel at the moment (because of the inconvenient fact that Israeli commandos shot and killed Turkish nationals on the Gaza flotilla last year).
The new standard is that Obama’s main goal in foreign relations should be to make sure that he bellows his unshaking belief in Israel at every opportunity, and goes out of his way to dismiss, berate and ignore anyone who does otherwise. It’s a peculiarly unilateral foreign policy conception.