Ron Kampeas writes: WASHINGTON – Does Nicolas Sarkozy really hate Benjamin Netanyahu? Does President Obama really sympathize?
And does it really matter?
The fleeting, private exchange between the French and U.S. presidents at a summit in Cannes, France, made international headlines, and its meaning is still being parsed by political pundits and pro-Israel activists.
The Anti-Defamation League was the only major centrist Jewish group to publicly rebuke Obama for the Nov. 3 exchange, which was overheard by several journalists at the G-20 summit who were plugged into a listening device monitoring the leaders that was switched on a few minutes early.
“I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar,” Sarkozy reportedly said – no one recorded the exchange – and Obama supposedly replied, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day.
The ADL called the exchange “un-presidential.”
“President Obama’s response to Mr. Sarkozy implies that he agrees with the French leader,” the ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said in his Nov. 8 statement. “In light of the revelations here, we hope that the Obama administration will do everything it can to reassure Israel that the relationship remains on a sure footing and to reinvigorate the trust between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, which clearly is not what it should be.”
The ADL’s broadside surprised others among mainstream pro-Israel groups who thought the issue was best dealt with as the conversation was meant to be – privately. One source reported hearing a top official at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee quipping, “Obama and Bibi talk every day? This is great news!”