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The ECI’s Bibi-Obama Robocalls Are Kind of Sad

And everything that’s wrong with the American discourse on Israel

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama in 2009(Getty)

While a large part of the country was preparing for a devastating hurricane, people in swing states like Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin were receiving slightly creepy and laughably misleading robocalls pit out by the Emergency Committee for Israel.

As of yesterday, there had been two robocalls, which sought to portray President Obama as the candidate who either (1) believes Jerusalem is a settlement or (2) is ideologically committed to allowing Iran to get a nuclear weapon. The first deception came when with the robocall’s ID, which led callers to think they were being personally phoned by ECI Founder Bill Kristol–the veritable dream scenario for maybe 14% of American Jews. But when callers actually answered there were treated to recordings of a fake “debate” that never actually took place between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, using spliced quotes and half-uttered sentences.

The first “debate” was about the status of Jerusalem. Ron Kampeas did the good work of including the links to the sources of the actually statements by both Obama and Netanyahu, which were quotes from speeches given three years apart from each other. Absent of their context, it almost (in a janky xerox-of-a-xerox kind of way) sounds as if the two men are talking about the same issue, but as the links show, they are not.

DEBATE ‘MODERATOR': Welcome to the first debate between Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. President, we’ll start with you.

OBAMA: I’ve made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs.

“MODERATOR”: Mr. President, thank you. Mr. Prime Minister, your response.

NETANYAHU: The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.

“MODERATOR”: Mr President, your rebuttal.

OBAMA: Obviously there are some differences between us.

ECI: Friends, Americans and Israel cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama. This call was paid for by the Emergency Committee for Israel because your vote will make the difference in this election.

Here is the recording of the second call:

Both Kampeas and Dave Weigel debunk the content of the calls, rightly contending that these distortions would probably not fool anyone with a working knowledge of the actual issues. But that wasn’t the point. The desired effect is to create hysteria among voters who may not exactly know what’s going on and mislead them into thinking that President Obama’s positions are not what nearly four years of his policy have reflected. The result is kind of sad.

It’s this season for cheap and dirty politics, yes, but this is actually a metaphor for what’s wrong with the conversation happening about Israel in American politics right now. It is a triumph that the issues surrounding Israel’s strength and security enjoy such widespread support among American leaders. But with efforts like these robocalls in mind, the farther away that Americans are from understanding what’s really driving the discourse on crucial issues like Jerusalem (by the way, here’s George W. Bush calling for 1967 borders) and Iran’s nuclear program (here’s a sample of Obama’s record on Iran), the greater the difficulty there will be in forging the necessary bipartisan support required to honestly confront these issues in the future, no matter who wins on Tuesday.

There are certainly things that voters could fault President Obama on with regard to the Middle East. But rather than make substantive points, the ECI seems to prefer to act as if Americans are stupid. It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to say that provoking this hysteria hurts Israel in the long run.

ECI’s Made-Up Bibi-Obama Robocall ‘Debate’ [JTA]
Listen to the Robocall in Which Obama “Debates” Bibi About Iran [Slate]

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ginzy1 says:

As long as we are on the topic of Israel & the US elections, Kol Yisrael’s Reshet Bet commissioned a poll of Israelis (and not just Americans living in Israel) as to who they prefer for US president. The results:

45% prefer Romney while 29% prefer Obama; 26% no opinion or don’t care.

Results in English translation can be seen here: The Hebrew original is here:

I guess we Israelis never got the memo on how Obama is the best president ever as far as Israel is concerned.


J’lem / Efrat

    I guess Israel is rushing ahead to madness bombing every bloody thing in sight isn’t it? Such a fresh approach. And nose to nose so it goes.

Poupic says:

Perfect Robocalls! Who can forget live on TV how upset Biden was hearing that all the administrative blocks had been removed. The permission to build apartments in Jerusalem was issued. Imagine that being upset that the Jewish state was building in Jerusalem the eternal capital of the Jewish nation and never an Arab capital even when they controlled it for hundreds of years. Then fast forward to the Democratic convention: Jerusalem is the capital of Israel was answered by a monster loud NO! by the Democrats. Is Adam Chandler a Jew? What kind of Jew supports an anti- Semite like Obama?

    Uh huh and paving over the lives of Arabs is so popular in Israel these days.

    It’s people like you who are the danger to we Jews, not President Obama. Stop your garbage!

      Poupic says:

      Really? I am a danger to the Jews? Pointing at Biden upset that Jews are building home in Jerusalem the eternal capital of the Jewish nation endangers Jews. Does it endanger Jews that Jews everywhere in the Diaspora during the Seder say this sentence: “Next year in Jerusalem?” Eating lox and bagels and belonging to a Jewish center doesn’t make one a Jew. Caring for the Jewish nation anywhere on the other hand does. Tuesday I will feel such a relief voting to replace anti- Semite Obama! The Joy of doing the right thing!

oaklandj says:

Pretty disgusting that far-right orgs like ECI must resort to outright distortions and lies in order to convince some really gullible people to vote GOP. I’ve never thought of Jews as “low-information voters” but I guess the right is finding the few out there that are…

PhillipNagle says:

Tablet Magazine glorifies an organization financed by George Soros, a former Nazi stooge, while putting down the ECI. The simple truth is that early in his term Obama presented a very anti Israel stance, both in the demeaning attitude he showed toward PM Netanyahu and in his demands on restrictions on Israeli building in the unified city of Jerusalem. Only when he needed Jewish money for the 2010 campaign did his views moderate. This man spent 20 years in a church that preached hatred towards Israel and many Jews are still foolish enough to believe that he does not share that view. In a second term when he no longer needs Jewish money, he will be a danger to Israel.

Beatrix17 says:

You guys actually went to all this trouble to prove that a ridiculous debate that we all
know never happened wasn’t true? And you think we don’t read
Obama’s remarks and know that he doesn’t consider Jerusalem a

What kind of obnoxious, smug assurance of your own superiority would possibly make you accuse Romney supporters of this kind of stupidity?

Frumious FalafeI says:

Actually if you listen to the Bush speech that is referenced in this article, he did *not* say what the Tablet is implying. It pays to actually go and listen. If you gloss over some important words, you might think it’s the same, but as we all know, words in sentences regarding Israeli borders *matter* a great deal — which is why, if you watch W. Bush reading the speech, he’s being extremely careful to get the words right.

Specifically he does *not* use the term “based on” — Obama used the verb “based on “1967 borders” with mutually agreed “swaps” — both “based on” and “swaps” imply we start with this and we change… oh, a few things only.

Bush simply says “a peace agreement will ‘require adjustments’ to the blah blah blah…” — that’s it “will require adjustments” — this is far less specific and prescriptive for Israel.

Obama more or less indicates what he expects the end result to look like — like pre-1967 with a few swaps. Bush doesn’t indicate or imply anything about the result he thinks he’ll see — indeed, he doesn’t hint at a result at all.

I think it’s disingenuous for the Table to say “oh, Bush said it too — even more so…” — frankly, I’m disappointed as I’ve liked this magazine in many other ways. I’ll probably have to ignore it when it comes to anything regarding Israel.

Beatrix17 says:

I didn’t see the broadcast
and so I don’t know if it was meant as a satire or if it was serious.

I do know that the
liberal Tablet tried to increase readership by including people
voting Republican as well as Democratic, but they seem to be having
2nd thoughts about being balanced. The glamorous
Democratic Super Pac is highlighted, and the seemingly foolish
Republican one is subject to ridicule as are those of us who are
supporting Romney. I’ve never seen so many negative votes on one of
your Scrolls that had such a low response.

Israel is not our only issue any more than it is for those voting Democratic..

rightcoaster says:

I just posted this to a slightly older Tablet piece, but it seems appropriate here
also: This election is first about the US economy. Comparing the actual
accomplishments of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, distinct from the
cherry-picked barbs of political ads, I can’t see why anyone, Jew or
non-, would conclude Mr. Obama deserves reelection over Mr. Romney.

Here’s why: Mr. Romney founded an enormously successful business, Bain Capital.
I wanted to learn about it after I read a vitriolic screech by David
Stockman. The Wikipedia article about Bain Capital was revealing and
should be read: an astonishing number and scope of businesses were
invested in, with great success for the pension funds and other
investors in several investment pools. It shows Mr. Romney’s
character: Perseverance after a slow start, and ability to adapt to
Bain invested in startups (Staples for a familiar example) and in the
turnaround of failing businesses (Brookstone, Stage Stores). Other
recognizable Bain Capital investments include Sealy, Domino’s Pizza,
Burger King, Sports Authority, The Weather
Channel, and on and on…and on. Some went bust (turnarounds are not always
successful) but many companies Bain helped continue to contribute to the
private-sector economy. The Bain Capital model included “partner[ing]
with existing management [of acquired companies] to apply Bain
[Consulting] methodology to their operations”, and had a good rate of
success — and some failures, normal in a competitive environment.
Later Mr. Romney did a successful turnaround of the 2002 Winter Olympics
and was a decent governor of Massachusetts. This is a huge breadth
and depth of experience dealing with government and diverse businesses and
industries at every stage of life, and choosing and motivating competent executives,
an exemplary resume by any objective standard that eminently qualifies him to be POTUS.

Mr. Obama’s accomplishments before POTUS comprise a comparative
shadow. Zero business experience in this market-driven economy. Never a
budget, never a marketplace, never a profit, never a payroll to meet. A
“community organizer” and a university lecturer prior to becoming a
professional politician, thereafter his sole career. His record in the
Illinois senate and his partial term in the US Senate were ho-hum.

As POTUS, with filibuster-proof control of both Houses of Congress in
2009-10 he squandered this advantage to force through the Affordable
Care Act and Dodd-Frank without the Republicans (“F*** ‘em”, according
to that eminent Talmudist Rav Rahm) , instead of focusing on turning
around the damaged economy — a judgment failure (the auto bailout had
been started by Mr. Bush, not Mr. Obama). He pushed through a $0.8T
“stimulus” for “shovel-ready” programs. All but the most naïve,
credulous, and inexperienced knew that there was no such thing as big
shovel-ready projects needing funding: If shovel-ready they were already
funded; if not funded they were not shovel-ready – lacking procurement,
engineering, permits, equipment purchases, etc. – long processes.

The defects in Dodd-Frank and ACA have used up much ink. ACA’s arguably good
parts take just five or ten of its 1000 pages. Dodd-Frank is in part impossible to implement fully, etc .

The choice should be on the actual record of accomplishment of the
candidates, since history should be the best predictor of future
performance-in-office. Israel will survive either one. Abortions will
still be readily available without Roe v Wade. But the US fisc needs
fixing, and Mr. Obama cannot fix it.

normbnm says:

We have just had a great example of how Obama will support Israel with the 9/11 attacks on Americans in Libya, he did not come to the aid of Americans under attack for 7-9 hours. The Jewish community and Israel no longer have to wonder if Obama will come to their aid, he WON”T.


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The ECI’s Bibi-Obama Robocalls Are Kind of Sad

And everything that’s wrong with the American discourse on Israel

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