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March 3, 2012
WaPo laces Obama-Netanyahu summit with anti-Israel poison pills
In the run-up to President Obama's summit with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the president gave an interview to Atlantic Magazine during which he ratcheted up his warnings that the United States is prepared to use military force, if necessary, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
"When I say we're not taking any option off the table, we mean it," Obama declared. Asked to elaborate on what options he has in mind, he replied: "It includes a military component." That's news, coming from a president of the United States.
Obama said he's confident that Israel takes him at his word. "The Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff," he remarked. "Both the Iranian and the Israeli government recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapons, we mean what we say."
Obama also made news by emphasizing that blocking Iran from going nuclear "isn't just in the interests of Israel, it is profoundly in the security interests of the United States" because of critical risks that an Iranian nuclear arsenal could leach such weapons to terrorist organizations and start a nuclear arms race in the most volatile region of the world.
Finally, in terms of newsworthiness, Obama flatly ruled out any expectation that he might eventually resign himself to a nuclear-armed Iran and settle for a containment policy such as the United States adopted against a nuclear-armed Soviet Union. A nuclear-armed Iran, he said, would be a totally different kettle of fish. It could open a nuclear-proliferation Pandora's Box -- with Iranian-sponsored nuclear-armed terrorist groups on the rampage, plus half a dozen other Mideast players jumping on the nuclear bandwagon. Compared with the U.S.-Soviet standoff during the Cold War, the president emphasized, "that is much more serious."
Yet, in its March 3 preview of the Obama-Netanyahu summit, the Washington Post brushed aside all these new insights into Obama's thinking and intentions. Instead, in its main front-page article, the Post cast the summit not as a meeting of two allies about how to confront the Iranian threat, but instead about Obama grappling with a possibly premature Israeli military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. Reading the Post, you'd think the main danger comes from Israel, not from the mullahs in Tehran ("Obama to urge Israel's patience - A Caution Against Strike On Iran - Plans to ask Netanyahu to let sanctions work" by Scott Wilson)
Wilson, the author of the article, is a former Jerusalem correspondent for the Post whose legacy was a raft of Israel-bashing stories. During his stint in Israel, the Wilson starting point for reporting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was that Israel is always in the wrong.
Accordingly, Wilson's piece about the summit leads off not with Obama's heighted warnings to Iran, but with plans by Obama to plead with Netanyahu for more patience and time to let sanctions take effect -- as Wilson puts it, there is "within the administration fear that a pre-emptive Israel attack could set off a regional war. This disagreement between the United States and Israel will color the meeting between the two leaders. The White House talks are likely to focus on the effectiveness of sanctions and the dangers of an Israeli attack." The villain at this summit is Israel, not Iran.
It is not until the ninth paragraph that Wilson briefly alludes to Obama's "I don't bluff" remark - but without even telling readers what Obama isn't bluffing about. Obama's declaration that there's a military component to his warnings to Iran goes unmentioned.
While downplaying the Iranian threat, Wilson doesn't hesitate to cast Israel as the real "source of frustration and fear in the Middle East." Unbelievable? Not with Wilson. Here's how he puts it: "Israel has its own undeclared nuclear program, including a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. Obama has declined to call on Israeli leaders to declare the program, a source of frustration and fear in the Middle East."
And in a revealing peek into Wilson's animus against Israel, there is his description of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, not as a U.S. group, which it is, but as an Israeli one, which it isn't --- in his words, "the Jewish state's most conservative and politically influential U.S.-based advocacy group."
Thus, when Obama addresses AIPAC this weekend, according to Wilson, he will be the guest of an influential subsidiary of the state of Israel. In one swoop, Wilson strips AIPAC of its U.S. identity.
For media monitors who followed Wilson's stint as a Mideast correspondent, the bias is all too familiar.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers
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