Oct 18, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Ex-President Obama has just come out with his latest autobiography in which he confirms what we already knew: despite garnering over 70% of the Jewish vote in both runs for the Whtie House, Obama and Netanyahu did not like each other.

Volume One of Obama’s Newest Memoir: $65 Million, 768 Pages 

With about 40 books (including two autobiographies) about former President Barack Obama, some might be tempted to think that another self-penned memoir would be excessive. But the man himself thinks differently as the first 768-page volume of a two-volume set of self-penned tomes, describing his life from childhood up through his first years in the White House, concluding with the killing of Osama BinLaden in 2011. The book is set to be released on Tuesday. Set for an initial domestic run of 3.4 million copies being sold at $5 a copy and 2.5 million copies printed for international readers in 25 languages, the book will undoubtedly earn more than the $15.6 million he has earned from his first two books. It was announced in 2017 that the former first couple had signed a joint book deal with Penguin Random House which specified a record-setting $65 million advance. Michelle’s memoir, “Becoming”, is already a worldwide bestseller, selling more than 10 million copies. 

Obama and Netanyahu: No Love Lost

Some cynics have suggested that the publication of the presidential half of the deal was delayed so that any criticisms of his former VP, Joe Biden, would be delayed until after the elections. Early reviews have already noted that the book does not hesitate to paint a negative portrait of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This should come as no surprise since Obama’s first term began with his famous “New Beginning” speech in Cairo which was followed by a blatant snub; Obama did not follow this up with a visit to his country’s most ardent ally in the region. And one of his final acts ending his second term in office was withholding the veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution declaring Jewish residency in Judea and Samaria to be illegal, a move the Palestinians hailed as a great victory.

The book was reviewed in Jewish Insider who said that while praising Netanyahu’s traits, describing him as a “smart, canny, tough…gifted communicator” who could be “charming, or at least solicitous” when it benefited him, Obama accused Netanyahu of using these skills against Obama and his administration. In one instance, Obama described Netanyahu as  “lavishing praise” on him for “an inconsequential pro-Israel bill” he had supported when serving as an Illinois Senator. But Obama criticized Netanyahu’s “vision of himself as the chief defender of the Jewish people against calamity allowed him to justify almost anything that would keep him in power.” Obama blamed Netanyahu for driving the political position of American Jews, “even when Israel took actions that were contrary to US policy.”

Coming disturbingly close to raising the anti-Semitic tropes of world-domination and money-lust, Obama said that politicians who “criticized Israel policy too loudly risked being tagged as ‘anti-Israel’ (and possibly antisemitic) and [were] confronted with a well-funded opponent in the next election.”

Playing the victim, Obama said that he was the subject of a “whisper campaign” that sought to portray him as “insufficiently supportive — or even hostile toward — Israel” in his first presidential campaign in 2008, an election that saw 78% of American Jews vote for the first black president. 

Obama admitted the incongruity of his claim. 

“On Election Day, I’d end up getting more than 70 percent of the Jewish vote, but as far as many AIPAC board members were concerned, I remained suspect, a man of divided loyalties; someone whose support for Israel, as one of [campaign manager David Axelrod’s] friends colorfully put it, wasn’t ‘felt in his kishkes’ — ‘guts,’ in Yiddish,” Obama wrote.

The former president claimed to have studied the Jewish influence in the civil rights movement while in college and praising the Jews who represented some of his “most stalwart friends and supporters” who “tended to be more progressive”. He noted the Jews’ shared with him “a common story of exile and suffering”. But, he reasoned, it was this history of being oppressed which should have made it “impossible to ignore the conditions under which Palestinians in the occupied territories were forced to live.”

The former president addressed his pressuring Israel into restricting the number of Jews permitted to live in Judea and Samaria while not making any demands of the Palestinians, saying the demand was “reasonable” as Israel was “the stronger party.” 

Obama accused Netanyahu of responding by carrying out an “orchestrated” a pressure campaign via Jewish American resources that made dealings with Israel unlike relations with any other country. Obama speculated that the process might have played out differently had Israel been represented by someone other than Netanyahu. 

Obama Claims to be the Victim of Netanyahu’s Political Intrigue But…

Obama claims to be the victim of Netanyahu’s political intrigues but It should be noted that in actuality, Obama took switching Netanyahu further than speculation. In the 2015 elections, a grassroots Israeli political group called V15 (Victory 2015) campaign focused on preventing Netanyahu’s reelection. Their efforts were ineffective and garnered little attention until they were adopted by One Voice. One Voice provided significant financial support and overnight, V15 went from a neighborhood campaign to opening at least ten offices all over Israel. One Voice also brought in Jeremy Bird, a field director in both of President Barack Obama’s winning White House runs.

At the same time, the U.S. State Department under Obama initiated a program that brought leaders of Arab communities in Israel to the U.S. to “learn how to vote.” The Arab parties support left-wing coalitions in Israeli governments.

In 2013, the U.S. State Department provided OneVoice Israel and OneVoice Palestine with two grants equaling $349,276. Soon after the end of the grant period, OneVoice began its support of V15.

The friction between Obama and Netanyahu has been well-documented. In 2018, former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes described this in his memoir. Rhodes described Obama’s comments before a speech in front of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the pro-Israel lobby group. Obama, according to Rhodes, expressed frustration at having to fight back against what he saw as lies and distortions crafted by Netanyahu against his administration. Rhodes wrote that “by 2015, Netanyahu had become almost a de facto member of the Republican caucus.”