Yesterday, I wrote about how the liberal establishment’s ignorance of Israeli politics and history has severely hampered their ability understand the words and actions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, resulting in some serious and unfounded accusations against him that he’s trying to meddle in the American presidential election. David Frum points readers to a good post by Michael Koplow in which he makes a similar point but adds another element: the American media’s tendency to think everything is about the U.S.
Koplow writes that Netanyahu’s recent spate of comments about the Iranian nuclear program were about Israeli domestic politics, amid concerns that he may not have everyone he needs on board should he feel the window on stopping Iran is closing and the U.S. balks at military action. Koplow notes some of the more sensational outbursts from the media, including David Remnick’s accusation that Netanyahu is attempting to be a one-man super-PAC in Mitt Romney’s corner. This morning, the Associated Press has followed up with another perfect example of this problem. After scanning an interview Netanyahu conducted with the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom, the AP writes:
In an interview published Friday, Netanyahu hinted Israel may have to strike Iran even without U.S. support to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear weapon.
The comments indicate Netanyahu is not backing down from his thinly-veiled criticism of the Obama administration, despite a phone call from the U.S. president this week that was meant to smooth over their differences.
The errors here are all quite obvious. First of all, Netanyahu doesn’t speak to Obama through Israeli newspapers, especially when–as the AP reports in that same sentence–the two talk on the phone. Second, the idea that Israel may have to act on its own, while no one’s ideal conclusion to the Iran crisis, is not criticism of Obama, “veiled