By MICHAEL EVANS
A recent article in The Atlantic quoted an “unnamed” senior official in the Obama White House as saying of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.” You would think that the Ivy League-enlightened cacafuegos in the White House would besmirch Mr. Netanyahu as a coccydynia or a microphallus, rather than use such a Redneck term.
During the interview Netanyahu was also labeled a coward. Because this opinion was confirmed by yet another unnamed senior official seems to indicate that the charge of cowardice should be aimed at those “brave” individuals who will talk all day and yet strive to remain anonymous. Never in my 35 years of working with Israeli leaders have I seen such bunkum emerge from the White House aimed at an Israel prime minister.
Benjamin Netanyahu joined the Israel Defense Forces during the Six Day War in 1967, and became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit. He took part in many missions, including Operation Inferno and Operation Gift in 1968. During Operation Isotope in 1972, Benjamin was wounded while rescuing hostages on hijacked Sabena Belgian flight 571. He fought on the front lines in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, taking part in special forces raids along the Suez Canal, and then leading a commando assault deep into Syrian territory.
On July 4, 1976, Benjamin’s brother, Jonathan, died a hero during the raid to free Jewish hostages held by terrorists at the Entebbe, Uganda airport.
It has been thirty-plus years since I first met Benjamin Netanyahu, who was then a furniture salesman. I recommended him to Menachem Begin for his first political appointment. Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister born in Israel after the establishment of the state.
Following my recommendation, Benjamin was appointed deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington. This was followed by a stint as Israel’s ambassador to the UN. Upon returning to Israel, he was elected to serve in the Knesset as a Likud Party member and became deputy minister of foreign affairs. In 1993, Netanyahu was elevated to party chair and served in that capacity until his election as prime minister three years later.
This man who has been called an expletive and a coward has served his country with honor. During his tenure terrorist attacks inside the country have significantly decreased. Investment by foreign enterprises has risen to an all-time high. He also served with distinction as minister of Science, Housing and Construction, Economic Strategy, Pension Affairs, Health, Foreign Affairs, and Diaspora Affairs. He left the government because of disagreements regarding the Gaza disengagement plan.
Netanyahu also advanced the peace process with the Palestinians, signing both the Hebron and Wye Accords. He liberalized foreign currency regulations, accelerated privatization of government-owned companies, and reduced the budget deficit. In 2002, he was appointed finance minister and led the nation from the depths of a recession to reforms in the tax and welfare systems, as well as leading the fight to lower unemployment.
Re-elected as prime minister in 2009, he has sought to work with the Palestinians on a two-state solution, but with the proviso that Israel’s right to exist be acknowledged as well as the preservation of the current borders. To acquiesce to the demand to return to 1967 lines would place Israeli civilians in harm’s way—which he refuses to do.
The Obama administration is not the first to scheme to inflict damage on Prime Minister Netanyahu’s image and his political career. At the start of the 1999 election campaign in Israel, president Bill Clinton sent a very clear message to Netanyahu: The team that had run both of his successful election campaigns was sent to aid Netanyahu’s opponent.
Top donors to the Democratic Party and to Clinton’s campaigns were mobilized against Netanyahu as though it were another election the Democrats must win. The result of those efforts was that six percent of Netanyahu’s voters moved over to the other side, and he lost the election.
While continuing to battle Hamas and Hezbollah terrorists, Netanyahu has been able to forge a tentative association with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, based on the concern that Iran’s nuclear program presents an existential threat to the entire Middle East. It is a tightrope that Netanyahu walks in his efforts to protect and preserve Israel, a job which has won him nothing but contempt from Western leaders.
And by the way, King Faisal believes that the White House expletive does belong to a leader; just not the one in Jerusalem, DC (David’s Capital), but to the one in Washington, DC. Saudi Arabia is totally opposed to President Obama’s polices on Iran and Syria.
While Prime Minister Netanyahu was being raked over the coals, on Monday a fleet of planes and helicopters airlifted the last US and British forces from Helmand Province, a key base in in southern Afghanistan. The move followed the day after the international coalition closed the massive facility and handed it over to the Afghan military. The troop withdrawal and base closure was one of the largest maneuvers in the cessation of the combat mission in Afghanistan. It came 13 years after toppling the Taliban, the extremist Islamist regime.
Soon the US will be gone from the Middle East, where Muslim fanatics will continue to fuel and feed terrorism. Then, the only firewall between radical Islam and the West will be Israel, led by “chickenshit” Benjamin Netanyahu.
Dr. Michael Evans is a #1 New York Times bestselling author. His book, The Final Move Beyond Iraq, was a #1 New York Times bestseller.