Obama and the Media Are Suffering from 'Bibi Derangement Syndrome'

Almost immediately after Benjamin Netanyahu’s dramatic electoral victory, Barack Obama and his administration announced that they were going to reconsider U.S. policy towards Israel. If Israel was going to withdraw its support for a two-state solution, American would find ways to bring it about without them.  This new policy might cause the U.S. to “reevaluate” its position on Palestinian statehood at the United Nations, perhaps dropping its opposition to the UN recognizing Palestine as a nation, as well as not opposing Israel being brought before the International Court at The Hague for committing war crimes in the recent Gaza war.

These threatened measures are in response to Netanyahu’s strength and Obama’s inability to bring about his defeat.  Now, Netanyahu will most likely have the ability to put together a coalition resulting in a new Israeli government of the center/right with himself as the prime minister.  That must really irk Obama.  It also puts Netanyahu in a stronger position to oppose a weak deal with Iran.  In order to weaken and neutralize him, it makes sense to paint him as a right-wing extremist with whom there can be no accommodation.

For that task, the compliant defenders of Obama in the press must paint a portrait of Netanyahu in the darkest of colors.  To these writers of the mainstream liberal press, anything is fair game when it comes to demonizing Bibi. They suffer from what I call Bibi Derangement Syndrome (BDS).

First, they inevitably begin their argument by claiming that before the election he had cynically switched his position on the two-state solution from pro to con and that he had definitively stated that there would be no two-state solution and Palestinian state while he was prime minister.  In doing this he had repudiated his 2009 speech in which he publicly stated that he favored two states living peacefully side-by-side.

In fact, Netanyahu had not changed his position nor repudiated his earlier statement. In 2009 he said at Bar-Ilan University that “in my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor’s security and existence.” The key is the last part of his statement, noting “mutual respect” and neither threatening each other, which is mandatory for any such treaty.

He sought to clarify his position after the election in a much-discussed interview with NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, telling her:

I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state today, and evacuate areas, is giving radical Islam an area from which to attack the State of Israel. This is the true reality that has been created in past years. Those that ignore it are burying their heads in the sand. The left does this, buries its head in the sand, time and again.

Here, in his very first sentence, Netanyahu does not say he is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, but that today conditions in Palestinian society and the Middle East make it impossible to achieve and foolhardy to attempt.  Netanyahu made it quite clear, as The Times of Israel reported, that he had not changed his policy or retracted his 2009 position at all. What has changed, he told  Mitchell, “is the reality.” The PA united with Hamas, refuses to recognize the Jewish state, and insists on the right of return; hence, a “sustainable, two-state solution” is not on the horizon no matter how many offers Israel makes and land it is willing to hand over.

Despite Netanyahu’s clarification of his position, and his assurances in an interview with Fox News that he would continue to cooperate with the United States, the official U.S. position has not changed.  Instead, White House press spokesman Josh Earnest harped back to the prime minister’s pre-election statements, and told the assembled media that “words matter” and that the administration would not back down on the charge that Netanyahu used “divisive rhetoric” and opposed a two-state solution.