ZOA Critical of Obama Downgrading Israel to Merely One of Many Mideast Allies, Dismissing Israeli Concerns over Iran as “Noise”
September 25, 2012


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized President Barack Obama for downgrading in an interview the historically unique and close U.S./Israeli alliance into Israel being merely “one of our closest allies in the region” and dismissing the expression of deep Israeli concern at the lack of red lines placed by the world on Iran in its quest for obtaining a nuclear weapons capacity as “noise.” Every president has referred to Israel as the U.S.’s closest ally, never merely as one of its close regional allies.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently urged the United States to establish what he called a “red line” regarding Tehran’s nuclear program beyond which the United States would be compelled to act to stop Iran, Yet, in an interview with 60 Minutes on Monday, asked if he was subject to Israeli pressure on the subject, President Obama said that while he “understood and share[s]” the Netanyahu government’s concerns over the threat Iran would pose with nuclear weapons, “When it comes to our national security decisions—any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out—any noise that’s out there. Now I feel an obligation, not pressure but obligation, to make sure that we’re in close consultation with the Israelis—on these issues. Because it affects them deeply. They’re one of our closest allies in the region. And we’ve got an Iranian regime that has said horrible things that directly threaten Israel’s existence” (Daniel Halper, ‘Obama Refers to Israel Concern Over Iran as ‘Noise’ .Calls Israel “one of our closest allies in the region,’ Weekly Standard, September 23, 2012).


Following these remarks and the criticism they received, White House Spokesman Jay Carney said that Israel is the U.S.’s “closest ally” and that “The president was making clear that his commitment and this country’s commitment to Israel and Israel’s security is as strong as ever and unbreakable in nature … There’s obviously a lot of noise around this issue at times. His point was clearly that his objective is to take every step possible to enhance Israel’s security as part of our strong relationship with Israel. It is demonstrated by the unprecedented level of cooperation this administration has had with Israel on matters of defense and security” (‘White House says it’s committed to Israel,’ USA Today, September 24, 2012).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are concerned by President Obama’s remarks. 


“President Obama said that Israel is ‘one of our closest allies’ in the region.’ Who does he believe is a closer ally – Egypt? Saudi Arabia? Turkey? 


“The President’s choice of words about Israel being merely one of many regional allies was revealing and is not negated by his spokesman subsequently using different words about the closeness of the relationship to cover this up. Nor does the use of the word “noise” to describe Israeli expression of profound concern on an existential security question – a choice of word Mr. Carney repeated – suggest that the U.S./Israeli relationship may not be in as good a shape as the Administration is claiming.”


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