What did Obama mean by ‘noise’?


President Obama is facing questions over his use of the word “noise” on "60 Minutes" in discussing the Iranian nuclear program and Israeli pressure on the issue.

What exactly did the president mean by “noise”? The Republican Jewish Coalition has one read of the president’s remark, while the White House has another, very different interpretation.

For context, here’s the relevant part of the interview:

Steve Kroft of ’60 Minutes’: You don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?

Obama: When it comes to our national security decisions, any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis on these issues because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence.

The Republican Jewish Coalition suggested that the president was dismissing Israeli concerns about Iran’s nuclear program as “noise.” Here is the statement from the RJC’s executive director, Matt Brooks:


The urgent and well-founded concerns of Israel about the continuing Iranian nuclear arms program are not “noise.” In this area, as in so many others, American national security interests and Israeli security interests are aligned: we cannot allow Iran to develop the capacity to create and deploy nuclear weapons.

Diplomacy and sanctions have not impeded the Iranians’ progress toward their goal, and recent reports from the IAEA and the Iranian regime corroborate the Israelis’ long-held view that Iran has lied to international inspectors and gotten much farther along the path to nuclear weapons than has previously been acknowledged.

By dismissing Israel’s and the international community’s legitimate concerns about Iran as mere “noise,” Pres. Obama yet again displays his Jimmy Carter-like naiveté when it comes to U.S. foreign policy. In these dangerous times, that puts the United States and our friends and allies around the world in jeopardy.

In response to a reporter’s question, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, offered a different take on the president’s word choice: "The president was making clear that his commitment and his country’s commitment to Israel’s security is as strong as ever — and unbreakable in nature. There’s obviously a lot of noise around this issue at time." (See his full remarks in video above.) 

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