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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Video: President Obama's interview with Israel Channel 2's Yonit Levy

It took some doing, but I have managed to track down President Obama's full interview with Israel Channel 2's Yonit Levy, which was conducted on Wednesday, and shown here in Israel on Thursday night. The interview is below in three parts. The interview itself is in English with Hebrew subtitles. The commentary is in Hebrew - if anyone wants to translate it, I will post the translation. (I could do it myself but I just don't have the time).

The interview is especially interesting because one of the fascinating questions that remains open from Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to Washington this week is to what extent Israelis were taken in by President Obama's effort to turn on the charm. We won't know that for sure until there are some reliable polls out (I'd look for those toward the middle of the coming week), but Yonit Levy sure doesn't seem to have been taken in.

In the interview, President Obama makes some really disingenuous statements (his explanation for snubbing Prime Minister Netanyahu in March defies reality), as if pretending that the last year and a half never happened will make it go away.

Let's go to the videotape with Part 1.

In the introduction in Hebrew Yonit Levy says that you can summarize this interview with one sentence, "I understand you, but...." It's a theme that recurs throughout the interview.

I thought this statement was truly bizarre:
On the Palestinian side, moderates like Abu Mazen and Fayyad are, I think, willing to make the concessions and engage in negotiations that can result in peace. But their time frame in power may be limited if they aren’t able to deliver for their people.
Someone ought to tell The One that Abu Mazen has overstayed his term in office by about 18 months and that Fayyad has never been elected by anybody.

And then he goes on to say this:
There’s a constant contest between moderates and rejectionists within the Arab world. And then there’s the demographic challenges that Israel is going to be facing if it wants to remain not only a Jewish state but a democratic state. So you look at all these pressures and you say to yourself, we probably won’t have a better opportunity than we have right now. And that has to be seized. Now, it’s going to be wrenching. It’s going to be difficult.
What 'contest' might that be and how does it play out? What if we go back to the Auschwitz borders and then the 'rejectionists' gain power?

Is the President really trying to impose a 'settlement' because he's concerned with our (non-existent) demographic problem? Would we rather be democratic or alive?

And by the way, the last seven Presidents (going back to Nixon) all said that we 'won't have a better opportunity than now' for peace. So why is this 'now' different?

At the end, Yonit gets into the 'terrific meeting' in March, but most of that is in the second tape, so let's go to the videotape of Part 2:

This exchange is incredible.
Q You know, you met with him on Tuesday and you both said that the meeting was excellent. And, you know, perfect photo, an idyllic photo notwithstanding, it wasn’t exactly -- hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing in your relationship so far.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, some of this has been greatly overstated. I mean, the last time that the Prime Minister came here, we had a terrific meeting. It was so good that it spilled over. And the reports then came out that somehow I had snubbed the Prime Minister, when in fact what had happened was the Prime Minister was interested and eager enough in working out some issues that he wanted to convene with his team, and then I came back and we had this meeting. That --

Q And the fact that there was no -- there were no briefings, no photo-ops in that meeting, it doesn’t --

THE PRESIDENT: Well, all of that fed this impression that somehow there were more strains than there were.
And Obama could easily have 'corrected' that 'misimpression' in March by saying something about it. But he didn't. And it's clear to all of us why he didn't.

From there he goes to "some of my best friends are Jews...."

It's pretty funny that President Obama has never told the Muslim community that he wants them to accept Israel.

I wish I could do a search of how many times Obama has discussed "unbreakable bonds with Israel."

But perhaps the biggest joke is the claim that Iran has been his number one foreign policy priority for the past 18 months. Huh? Anyone out there want to argue that the 'Palestinians' have not been Obama's number one priority over the last 18 months? Netanyahu keeps trying to get him to discuss Iran and he keeps going back to the 'Palestinians.'

Here's Part 3. Let's go to the videotape.

It's a shame she didn't ask him why he opposed the tougher sanctions passed by the US Congress and whether he plans to use the waivers that were included to prevent an open battle with him.

The last couple of questions were disappointing - maybe Yonit felt obligated to toss him some softballs. I don't buy that 'common humanity' stuff. Think about that story the other night about the 'Palestinian' woman who wanted her son who was saved by Israelis to become a suicide bomber. The bit about tikkun was sickening - it's probably one of the most misused concepts out there.

But overall it's a fascinating interview.


At 1:26 AM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Thank you for this. Unfortunately, I preferred to read your take on the interview as watching O lying through his teeth makes me want to throw up.

At 1:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Carl, thanks for posting this. Juniper, I too have a hard time forcing myself to listen to the big O. Is he always this bad at maintaining eye contact with his interviewer?

What really stands out for me is what he DOESN'T say about Iran. He doesn't say "I will not permit Iran to acquire nuclear weapons", he does not say "An Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable". He says only that "we will do everything we can to prevent" this. But how does he define what he can do; does he think that airstrikes would prevent it? Too much wiggle room in there for my taste.

At 3:53 AM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Note in the first reel on the question of why the Israelis should have "hope", Obama runs through the history of existential threats Israelis have faced at the hands of the Arabs and suggests that because they have survived these threats and prospered as a nation, they should continue to have "hope". There is no acknowledgment or apparent recognition that Israel survived its wars only narrowly and with appalling losses and that neither he nor any US administration can guarantee that will not happen again.

At 6:08 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

What Israelis are looking from Obama isn't beautiful words but keeping past American commitments to Israel, like the 2004 Bush Letter. All the charm is wasted if it isn't backed up by substance.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Gershon said...

I read somewhere that the reason he knows how unbreakable the bond between Israel and the US is that he's been trying for a year and a half to break it.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Gershon said...

I read somewhere that the reason he knows how unbreakable the bond between Israel and the US is that he's been trying for a year and a half to break it.

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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