An analyst tells Press TV that US President Barack Obama would not like the media to make a big deal of what he said about Netanyahu since he doesn’t want to jeopardize the pro-israeli vote for the upcoming elections.
In an unguarded moment Nicholas Sarkozy revealed his dislike of israel’s Netanyahu saying he was a liar. Incredulously Barak Obama responded ‘at least you don’t have to deal with him every day’.
Press TV has interviewed Sharif Nashashibi of the Arab Media Watch to discuss the incident.
What follows is a rough transcription of the interview:
Press TV: Why did take so long- I think a full ten days for that story to come out?
Nashashibi It’s a good question, because whoever broke the story this would have been a huge scoop, so it is very strange that it didn’t break straight away.
It was reported that the journalists in question were French and maybe they didn’t want to embarrass their leaders so they kept quiet and then it was basically leaked and then the israeli media jumped on it.
But it certainly is strange because as a journalist, any journalist would have known this is going to be a big story and if I break it first this is going to be a big scoop for me.
The other surprising thing is that when it did hit the media properly, it came and went very quickly. Everyone expected a really big kind of drama about this. It just didn’t happen.
Press TV: When you think about it- the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had an off-mic moment in which he referred to an ordinary voter as a dreadful woman and that argument went on for weeks and weeks.
Nashashibi Yeah and this had kind of global implications and it came and went. I think the other surprising thing is that you would think these world leaders have realized by now if you have a microphone on your lip keep quiet if you don’t want to say anything that you don’t want to be made public.
And you know when the journalists were given these translation boxes they were told not to switch them on till the backroom conversation is finished. Well, that’s just an open invitation to switch them on right away.
Press TV: Sherif, do you think the Sarkozy/Obama set are bullying Netanyahu or do you think it’s the other way round? What did you get of this off-mic incident?
Nashashibi For one thing I think the context of the conversation has been somewhat overlooked in relation to the totality of the coverage of the incident. This conversation happened while Obama was telling Sarkozy off for France supporting Palestine’s bid at UNESCO.
So overall yes Obama said well, at least you don’t have to work with him every day, but he was standing up for israel in that conversation overall. I think people have overlooked that. I think, everyone in this situation has vested interest in not making a big deal out of it:
Sarkozy, because he was the one who made the most embarrassing comment; Obama, because as [another speaker on the show] Jeffery said there is an election coming up and he doesn’t want to jeopardize the pro-israeli vote and Netanyahu, because for one thing Netanyahu somehow prides himself on this international isolation. It somehow gives him domestic support.
And also if you look at it he doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds him which is the US. And if you look at- all three countries have a common cause against Iran’s nuclear program. And at the moment you have the vote for Palestine- Palestinian membership in the UN.
France has said it will abstain. Netanyahu may well think well I better keep them on my side because that abstention may turn into support for Palestine which is highly symbolic.
So I think all three leaders have a vested interest to keep their minds of this; to bury this.
Press TV: Now we’ve just got a few moments to get our guests concluding remarks, your view Sherif.
Nashashibi I think this whole issue is not going to affect Netanyahu domestically but shows exasperation by two staunch allies of Netanyahu and israel.
And that says a lot and when you connect that to the Arab Spring where israel has basically lost its close ties to Egypt; it has lost its close ties to Turkey- these are corner stone alliances in the region.
And even among its enemies. I mean you have [President of Syria] Bashar al-Asad under threat and he was at least an enemy that israel was familiar with.
You know, israel is in an increasingly shaky ground regionally and internationally and I think if you look at the incident in that wider context then it holds much symbolism and should be of concern not just to Netanyahu but to israel as a whole.