In his latest memoir, due to be published next week, Former President Barack Obama calls Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “smart, canny, tough…gifted communicator” as well as “charming, or at least solicitous” when it benefited him, according to reviews of the book.
The former president devotes a portion of his book to describing the Israeli premiere and what many viewed as their tense relationship during his eight years in office in his presidential memoir, “A Promised Land.”
The Israeli prime minister painted himself as “chief defender” of Jews in order to defend his policies, Obama wrote.
The Jewish Insider which received an advance copy of the book, reports that Obama said Netanyahu’s “vision of himself as the chief defender of the Jewish people against calamity allowed him to justify almost anything that would keep him in power.”
The Jewish Insider notes that Obama was intrigued by the influence of Jewish philosophers on the civil rights movement but that these same Jewish values made it “impossible to ignore the conditions under which Palestinians in the occupied territories were forced to live.”
Obama also accused Netanyahu of pursuing an “orchestrated” push against him, which underscored that “normal policy differences with an Israeli prime minister exacted a domestic political cost.”
Politicians who “criticized Israel policy too loudly risked being tagged as ‘anti-Israel’ (and possibly anti-Semitic)" and Obama himself became the target of a “whisper campaign” to paint him as “insufficiently supportive — or even hostile toward — Israel” when he first ran for president, the former president claimed.
He writes that Netanyahu took advantage of “his familiarity with American politics and media to oppose the Obama administration's efforts,” Israel’s Channel 12 reports.
In the book, the former president also presents his side of a meeting in 2010 in which he was said to have snubbed Netanyahu. Obama explains that both parties agreed for the meeting to be “paused” and that Netanyahu said “he was happy to wait” for Obama to return from another meeting.
The timing of the book's release is a reminder of why Netanyahu in particular would be disappointed with a regime change in D.C. after four years of a warm relationship with President Donald Trump who is currently engaged in legal challenges over the 2020 U.S. elections.