The reported transcript of a conversation between an arrogant, imperious President Obama and a defiant, angry prime minister of Israel has both sides claiming it’s fabricated, but the Israeli journalist who broke the story is standing by it.
And aside from some weird-sounding language, anyone who’s been following things over there the past few weeks won’t be all that surprised.
In the transcript between Obama and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, both men sound like they’re reading from a bad movie script, but that could just be a problem with translation. The transcript is based on a Hebrew translation of a conversation in English that was translated back into English. (To read the whole thing, go here.)
Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.
Netanyahu: And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?
Obama: I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.
(That right there tells you there’s something wrong. Anyone who can picture Barack Obama saying something like “silence will be met with silence” then shutting the hell up has never heard the man talk.)
In nearly identical language, the White House and Netanyahu’s office denied the transcript was real, with paragons of virtue like Deputy National Security Adviser Benjamin Rhodes tweeting:
This “transcript of POTUS-PM call” report is totally false
— Ben Rhodes (@rhodes44) July 29, 2014
Rhodes, remember is the guy who wrote the “talking points” that blamed the Benghazi attack on an Internet video no one had seen. The man’s word is obviously gold.
But here’s the thing: The report was on Israel’s Channel 1, a government-funded operation like an Israeli BBC and the reporter, Oren Nahari, is Channel 1’s foreign news editor. This isn’t something from The Onion.
And nobody who’s watched or read about Secretary of State John Kerry making a hash of things on Obama’s behalf — first with a ludicrous campaign last year to reach a comprehensive peace agreement in nine months; now stumbling around trying to get Hamas to stop shooting its rockets for nine minutes — can really doubt the essence of Channel 1’s report.
Besides, if the White House says it’s false, it’s pretty good bet it’s true. And if Susan Rice goes on TV Sunday, we know exactly what Ben Rhodes is going to tell her to say.
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