Did you hear the one about the Israeli press just making up a conversation that didn't take place between Obama and Netanyahu? That's a page right out of Karl Rove's strategy guide. It was off-the-charts in terms of the intent and the evil. But it wasn't journalism.
The report came from Israel’s Channel 1 News, a respected television channel funded by Israel’s state broadcasting network in a similar fashion to the BBC. The reporter, Oren Nahari, said the call’s transcript was provided to him by a senior American official.
Israel has been utterly intractable and disrespectful of John Kerry while they bomb the bejesus out of Palestinians in Gaza. They've spun propaganda worthy of Frank Luntz and the only thing standing between them and victory in the propaganda war has been social media, where we get to see pictures like this one flying by in real time. That's not about tunnel destruction, folks. That's just flat-out obliteration right there.
I think Josh Marshall is onto something here when he suggests that there's more than a small alignment between the American right wing and the current dismal state of affairs in Israel.
In one very notable example, Israel's current Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, is a former GOP political operative who once worked for Frank Luntz, and only made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) in 2005. He even reportedly played some role (though I suspect a small one since he was just out of college at the time) in creating the 1994 Contract with America. It's usually good for both countries when a country's ambassador has a deep relationship with the country's head of government. It makes more seamless and reliable communication possible. And all seem to agree that Dermer's relationship with Netanyahu is very, very deep - this article refers to him as "Bibi's Brain."
So Dermer is tight with Netanyahu and he, by definition, has a ready grasp of the the minute intricacies of US politics, particularly Washington politics. But his background makes Democrats and especially this White House suspicious.
As well it should. The non-profit reviews I've been doing for the past five years show a large chunk of billionaire bucks going overseas to Israel, Ukraine and Russia, ostensibly for "education". Unfortunately the disclosure rules for foreign grants are even looser than for domestic grants, so it's often difficult to understand what that "education" entails.
Dermer's role shouldn't be underestimated here, and it's definitely something I'd like to see a high-profile journalist explore further. From a 2012 Haaretz article:
Dermer, 41, is Netanyahu’s senior policy adviser. He was born in Florida; his father is Jay Dermer, who was mayor of Miami Beach. He immigrated to Israel in the mid-1990s and served as the assistant of Natan Sharansky (today head of the Jewish Agency). In 2005 Sharansky and Dermer jointly published a book “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.” Even earlier, in 2003, Netanyahu, at the time finance minister in Sharon’s government, appointed him his strategic adviser. A year later he appointed Dermer economic attache in the Israeli embassy in Washington, a position he held for four years.
During the last election campaign, Dermer was an adviser to Netanyahu. After the formation of the government, he was appointed head of the National Information Directorate in the PMO, and later became Netanyahu’s diplomatic adviser. Dermer is considered one of the advisers closest to the prime minister and the one who helps him write speeches. He also serves as a liaison to the White House and to American politicians.
Dermer was a featured speaker at Sheldon Adelson's summit for 2016 Republican nomination hopefuls earlier this year. The New Republic reported on it:
Between his appointment in July 2013 and his assumption of his post this December, Dermer kept a low profile and appeared to stay out of American party politics. But on February 14, the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group funded by Las Vegas gambling billionaire Sheldon Adelson, announced that Dermer would be a featured speaker at its leadership meeting at Adelson’s Venetian Hotel this weekend. The event was designed to allow Adelson and other Jewish high-rollers to gauge the appeal of four Republican potential presidential candidates, including former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who will attend the weekend.
It’s about as political and partisan a get-together as you could imagine, and Dermer will be there—a prime draw—representing Israel and the Netanyahu government. J.J. Goldberg writes tongue-in-cheek in The Forward, “Amid mounting alarm that anti-Semitism is on the rise in key spots around theglobe—and fears that Israel could be a prime target—a prominent Republican group has come up with a unique approach to fighting back: gather a bunch of Jewish zillionaires at a casino in Las Vegas, announce plans to buy the White House in 2016 and invite leading politicians to come, hat in hand, and beg for permission to be the candidate.”
By obstructing Kerry and Obama's efforts to negotiate a cease-fire and possibly even some sort of solution, Netanyahu reveals his hand as a political tool of the American right wing. Forget all the sob stories about tunnels and missiles. It's convenient for Bibi to kill a bunch of Palestinians and it's even more convenient for the American right, who can parade themselves all over Fox News, the Sunday shows and the Internet crying about the President's failure of "leadership."
The billionaires are greedy, and they're calling in their markers. Bibi is just one of their tools. Putin is likely another. As for the dead children? Meh. For them it's collateral damage.