ECI’s made-up Bibi-Obama robocall ‘debate’-UPDATED


(UPDATED with ECI comment and J Street cartoon, below)

My synagogue listserve in northern Virginia is abuzz with a Robocall campaign, by the Emergency Committee for Israel.

The caller ID is that of William Kristol, who founded the group.

Robocalls are not known for straight-up accounts of the issues. Still, the deceptions in this one are a little stunning.

(Dave Weigel at Slate has audio of a second call he says is circulating in Wisconsin, Ohio and Viginia. More below.)


The call is in the form of a "debate" between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu.

There has never been any such debate, of course, and it’s immediately clear to me that it’s a mock-up, with "answers" spliced in from different appearances. But I’m steeped in this. I don’t know how clear it would be though to someone who doesn’t follow this day to day.

More substantively, the quote grabs have almost nothing to do with one another, although this is not evident in the calls. A more accurate presentation of the Netanyahu quote that is used would suggest that the two leaders are actually more in agreement on nuclear Iran — the issue of the "debate" — than not.

Obama’s "opening remark", in which he "respects" Iran’s sovereignty, is from a press conference in 2009, in which he rejected Iranian claims of U.S. involvement in post-election protests — and also decried Iranian repression of the protesters. It had nothing to do with Iran’s nuclear capability.

Netanyahu’s "response" is from his speech to AIPAC this year (three years later!).

The substance of that speech was that Netanyahu and Obama both reject containment of Iran as an option. It’s true that the speech was also Netanyahu’s opening salvo in his efforts to bring the Obama administration more in line with Israel on how to time a preemptive military strike — but ECI’s snippet is from the very paragraph where Netanyahu is stressing his agreement with Obama’s policy:

President Obama has reiterated his commitment to prevent that from happening. He stated clearly that all options are on the table, and that American policy is not containment. Well, Israel has exactly the same policy. We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option. The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.

Obama’s "rebuttal" — "Obviously, there are some differences between us" — comes from the May 20 2011 joint appearance with Netanyahu in the Oval Office, on the heels of Obama’s speech calling for negotiations with the Palestinians based on 1967 lines. Yes, there were at the time tensions between the leaders, but the line has nothing to do with Iran, and moreover is truncated. Here’s Obama’s full sentence:

Obviously there are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, and that’s going to happen between friends.

ECI’s Noah Pollak commented: "We don’t have all the secret Obama-Netanyahu debate recordings yet — but we expect to obtain one or two more, and we look forward to making them available as well."

Further UPDATE: As long as I’m posting Pollak’s snarky non-sequiturs, I might as well post this snarky cartoon by J Street.

Here’s the transcript,with links to the actual sources:

DEBATE ‘MODERATOR’: Welcome to the first debate between Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. President, we’ll start with you.

OBAMA: I’ve made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs.

"MODERATOR": Mr. President, thank you. Mr. Prime Minister, your response.

NETANYAHU: The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.

"MODERATOR": Mr President, your rebuttal.

OBAMA: Obviously there are some differences between us.

ECI: Friends, Americans and Israel cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama. This call was paid for by the Emergency Committee for Israel because your vote will make the difference in this election

UPDATE: The call Weigel obtains — at least on first listen — appears to hew a little closetr to the reality, pulling statements from each leader on settlement policy — where there was an actual disagreement. It maintains the "debate" fiction, however.

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