By Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn
Ever notice how the Obama Administration officials who attack Israel always insist on anonymity?
This week, “a senior administration official who would not be named” made strident comments to the New York Times about Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer. The anonymous official accused Dermer of “placing [Prime Minister] Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States.”
Earlier in the week, the Times of Israel (on January 23) quoted “officials in Washington” who said the vulgar term that an unnamed White House official used used to describe Netanyahu last October “was mild compared to the language used in the White House when news of Netanyahu’s planned speech [to the U.S. Congress] came in.”
That earlier anonymous insult was part of a tirade unleashed by an Obama administration official in an interview with The Atlantic, in which, among other things he compared Israel’s prime minister to chicken excrement.
In between those two barrages, there was a report in the Israeli daily Haaretz, in December, that “senior White House and State Department officials” had been holding meetings to discuss taking harsher steps against Israel “to make it clear” that the U.S. disapproves of some Israeli policies.
Sometimes, the “anonymous” mask can be pretty thin. For example, last May 2, an unnamed “senior U.S. official” told Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea of Yediot Ahronot’s Ynet website: “The Palestinians are tired of the status quo. They will get their state in the end — whether through violence or by turning to international organizations.”
Unfortunately for that senior official, Yediot’s rival, Haaretz, was not bound by any confidentiality that Yediot offered, and three days later, Haaretz reported that the Israeli government believes Martin Indyk, the top American envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, is the anonymous official. Interestingly, that remark, in which the official in effect justified Palestinian violence, was similar to some statements made in the past by “U.S. officials in Israel” during the period when Indyk was the U.S. ambassador in Israel.
The potential disadvantage — for the administration — of making accusations anonymously is the possibility that the public may not believe the statements were really made.
So why don’t these Obama officials come out and make their statements openly, so there can be no doubt as to the administration’s view?
Why hide behind the mask of anonymity? Why not tell the public exactly how they feel?
Because they know that the vast majority of the public will be appalled.
The Obama Administration knows that the vast majority of the American public –as well as Congress and American Jewry– strongly supports Israel. Most Americans want close U.S. – Israel relations. Poll after poll has shown that most Americans support Israel and few support the Palestinians.
The administration’s hostility toward Israel is a minority position — a very small minority. And that’s why Obama officials attack Israel anonymously. If this administration, which claims to be “transparent,” were transparent about its real feelings toward Israel, it would sink even lower in the polls. And so they are left to thrash about in frustration, throwing epithets and vulgarisms at America’s ally and desperately hoping that some of the mud will stick.
(The authors are president and chairman, respectively, of the Religious Zionists of America, Philadelphia, and candidates on the Religious Zionist slate (www.VoteTorah.org) in the current U.S. World Zionist Congress elections.)