Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a backlash among U.S. liberals over a remark in which he seemed to blast the Obama administration’s approach to Iran.
The most noteworthy liberal to go after the Israeli prime minister was Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who issued a strongly worded rebuke of the sort that is not often seen from a pro-Israel member of Congress.
Liberal commentators aren’t mincing their words either.
Time Magazine’s Joe Klein accused Netanyahu of “trying to push us into war” and “trying to influence an American election,” calling the prime minister’s efforts “absolutely outrageous and disgusting.” New Yorker editor David Remnick began his missive with the following sentence: “It is hard to overestimate the risks that Benjamin Netanyahu poses to the future of his own country.
Netanyahu’s remark that seemed to set everyone off was: “The world tells Israel, ‘Wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’ Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel." (That, in turn, was seen as a retort to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s statement that the U.S. would not be setting any deadlines for Iran.)
Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg, not one to slight Israeli security concerns, penned a post titled “Netanyahu Crosses a Red Line,” suggesting that the prime minister’s remark was inappropriate.
However, Goldberg argued that Netanyahu’s statement wasn’t an attempt to meddle in the U.S. election but rather stemmed from a sincere concern about the world’s response to Iran. Goldberg argued that “the White House politicized a Netanyahu statement that had its roots in something deeper than politics.” (He also said that Clinton’s statement “seems almost designed to provoke.”)
Meanwhile, Romney on Wednesday took a swipe at President Obama on Israel, based on reports citing an unnamed Israeli official that the president declined a request to meet with Netanyahu when the Israeli leader is visiting the U.S. for the opening of the U.N. General Assembly. (The Obama administration, for its part, denied that the prime minister had requested a meeting.)
"I can’t ever imagine, if the prime minister of Israel asked to meet with me, I can’t imagine ever saying, ‘No,’" Romney said on he campaign trail. "They’re our friends, they’re our closest allies in the Middle East."
Obama and Netanyahu spoke via phone on Tuesday evening, which the Israeli prime minister referred to as “a good conversation.”