Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu highlighted a moment in which he visibly angered former U.S. President Barack Obama in a campaign video ad designed to point to the Israeli leader’s steadfastness in the face of high-level “pressure.”
While Netanyahu has repeatedly used his friendship with U.S. President Donald Trump as a campaign asset, this is the first time he has pointed to his troubled relationship with Obama as a selling point.
The one minute clip, which Netanyahu posted on his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts was taken from an episode of the 2016 PBS “Frontline” program “Netanyahu at War,” which recounts the premier's rise to power and his relationships with U.S. leaders.
On Facebook, he wrote in Hebrew that “in the face of all pressure, I will protect our country,” punctuated with an Israeli flag.
The clip of the program posted by Netanyahu recounts the tense meeting between the two leaders in May 2011 after Obama took Netanyahu by surprise by publicly stating that he believed “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
At the meeting, the show’s narrator intoned, Netanyahu delivered a “lecture” to Obama.
With Obama looking at Netanyahu grimly, his chin resting on his hands, Netanyahu states, before a crowd of reporters, “it’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen. And I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly it’s not going to happen … Israel obviously cannot be asked to negotiate with a government that is backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaida … We cannot go back to the 1967 lines because these lines are indefensible.”
Footage from the famous encounter, in which Netanyahu schooled Obama on Jewish history and warned him to stop chasing “illusions” of Middle East peace were interspersed with commentary from aides and journalists.
“I have never seen a foreign leader speak to the president like that, and certainly not in public, and I’ve never— certainly never seen it happen in the Oval Office,” former White House staffer Ben Rhodes said.
Peter Baker, New York Times White House correspondent, observes: “You’re watching President Obama there with his face in his hand, and you can tell it’s not going over well. This is his house, and to be lectured in his office rankles.”
Finally, Dennis Ross, a special adviser to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, describes the reaction of Obama’s then-chief of staff. “Bill Daley is standing next to me and he’s going, “Outrageous. Outrageous! ”
The short video closes with the Likud campaign tagline: “Netanyahu. Right-wing. Strong.”
Several hours later Netanyahu posted a second video with a U.S. focus featuring an endorsement by evangelical leader and former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, the father of White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
In a clip from Huckabee’s show on the evangelical Trinity Broadcasting Network, Huckabee is seen discussing a recent day spent with Netanyahu, telling his audience that the “people of Israel” “are blessed with a strong and steady hand at the wheel of their country who has been relentlessly attacked by political enemies who are unable to argue better policies so they resorted to attacking them personally as well as in the legal system.”
“If that sounds familiar, it’s sort of what we’ve come to see in U.S. politics.” Huckabee said with a smile, as his audience chuckled along.
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