Don’t be alarmed by the hue and cry over the remark by French President Nicholas Sarkozy to President Barack Obama that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is a liar.
That scathing description of “Bibi” Netanyahu is widespread in the corridors of world power. Among the Israeli elite and its commentariat the contempt for the second time prime minister is even stronger.
Here are some character references from leading Israelis sources:
“Yitzhak Shamir called him an ‘angel of destruction’. David Magen called him a ‘political accident’. Netanyahu’s biggest problem as prime minister was his character. He was spineless, opportunistic, quick to panic, unable to withstand pressure, incapable of separating the wheat from the chaff… One of the important lessons is that character doesn’t change. Now, more than ever, Bibi is bad for the Jews.’ (From an article ‘Bibi is bad for the Jews’ by Yoel Marcus, Haaretz, 30/08/2005)
“Netanyahu’s big problem is his character. He has a seemingly inexhaustible impulse for self-destruction. He deceived his good friends, betrayed them, conducted negotiations behind their backs, managed to fight with all the senior ministers of his party, and was the first prime minister whose personal relations are carried out through an attorney. Nobody believes a word he says any longer, nor puts his faith in any document that he signs.” (From Op-Ed article by Nehemia Strasler, Israeli daily Ha’aretz, 14/5/99).
“ ‘I am not willing to help Netanyahu any longer’ said President Weizman in interviews with Israel’s two main television channels. ‘It is not possible that everyone is angry at us – the US, Europe, President Mubarak, King Hussein – and only we are right.’
Mr Weizman accused Israeli prime minister Netanyahu of using him to assure Arab leaders and the US that an agreement with the Palestinians was imminent, while the process has remained stalled for more than a year. ‘Bibi (Netanyahu) is living in euphoria, a world of his own,’ Mr Weizman said in a newspaper interview later in the week. ‘He’s totally cut off. The nation doesn’t know where the Prime Minister is leading them’.”
Israeli President Ezer Weizman quoted in The Australian 4/7/98
“Benjamin Netanyahu is doing everything he can against peace while the peoples and leaders of the region aspire to peace. The Prime Minister is backed by the same forces who assassinated Yitzhak and for whom peace is a catastrophe.”
(Leah Rabin, widow of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Israeli daily Ha’aretz, 24/11/98).
“Never have Israeli political leaders shown such blatant distrust of a prime minister … It is an astonishing fact that most politicians in Israel, including his allies, believe the Prime Minister cannot be taken at his word.”
(Abraham Rabinovich, The Australian’s correspondent in Israel, 3/1/98).
In an earlier article Rabinovich wrote: “Mr Netanyahu is one of the most persuasive speakers Israel has ever known and at the same time the least credible national figure in its history. To many, including those close to him politically, nothing Mr Netanyahu says can be taken at face value. He is a man of transparent artifice, a spinmeister adept at manipulating tomorrow morning’s headline under the impression that he is shaping history.” (The Australian 11/10/97).
“Anyone who was holding out hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government would pursue the peace process must now see how intransigent that government really is. It’s time that the United States treat Israel the way we would treat any other country violating peace accords and human rights. And that means considering economic sanctions and the withholding of aid.”
(Laura Wernick of the International Jewish Peace Union (USA), 11/12/96)
Meanwhile, Ayre Caspi, Middle East International, ‘Who do we think we’re kidding’ No. 413, 22/11/91, wrote: “The Palestinians arrived in Madrid with their national rights. We arrived there with our secret public relations weapon, Benyamin Netanyahu…Diplomats may not tell the truth, but they use a language which the informed listener will understand. Those who know that language know what is the truth. A diplomat’s lie is usually the truth expressed in a different way. Bibi Netanyahu, however, is a different animal. He tells diplomatic lies with a conviction and enthusiasm which prevent the guileless listener from realising that he is being conned.
“… If Netanyahu’s nose had grown by just a millimetre for every lie he told, I doubt whether he could still pass through the door of his office…”
Netanyahu’s credibility on the world stage is around zero. Distrusted by the US, the Europeans, the Russians and the United Nations, his rejectionist and obstructionist policies have landed the Israeli nation in a diplomatic cul de sac. He is attempting to lure the US and the Europeans into a war against Iran but Washington and Paris – as evidenced by the leak of the private chat between Sarkozy and Obama – ain’t listening.