US media turn on Netanyahu (finally) for meddling in U.S. policy

Philip Weiss

Mondoweiss  /  March 28, 2023

Netanyahu once said that America is “a thing that you can move, very easily.” But maybe those days are over? The media are finally paying attention.

In recent days, two articles have come out savaging Israel’s successful efforts to influence U.S. policy. Both allegations should have been news a long time ago, but the media clearly sense a shift in Israel’s image, so the news is coming out now.

The more important piece is an attack on Netanyahu in Time Magazine by two Israelis on the left saying that for the last 25 years “Netanyahu Has Made Israel A U.S. Adversary.”

“Indeed, while enjoying the status and perquisites of a U.S. special ally, [Israel] has pursued policies not only in variance with American strategic interests but often directly adversarial to them. And it has done so on a wide array of fronts, in the Middle East and across the globe,” write Sharon Pardo and Yonatan Touval.

They argue that “Netanyahu’s Israel” is trying to undermine the liberal democratic order of the E.U., that Netanyahu has stood with Putin, and that, most egregiously, he has meddled in U.S. politics.

Including manipulating Trump to withdraw from the Iran deal.

He has used Israel to sow divisions between Democrats and Republicans, to anathematize a sitting U.S. president (Barack Obama), and to manipulate—we are using this word advisedly—another one (Donald Trump) to withdraw from a hard-reached international agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran. The withdrawal is widely recognized to have been a huge strategic mistake, not only for U.S. security interests but, ironically, also for Israeli ones.

Part of the scandal here is that the U.S. mainstream has never aired this allegation before. They left Obama out to dry when he said in a speech that it would be an “abrogation” of his constitutional duty to take Israel’s side on Iran. Realist scholars have often alleged that Israel has swayed U.S. policy against the U.S. people’s best interest, and been termed antisemites for making that argument.

And of course Netanyahu himself said in a private conversation in 2001 (that was recorded, and reported in 2010) that America is “a thing that you can move, very easily.”

Maybe those days are ending? The media are surely sensing blood in the water. Last week the Gallup poll came out that shows that Democrats are overwhelmingly more sympathetic to Palestinians than they are to Israelis (for the first time) — by 49 to 38 percent. So it’s open season on Netanyahu.

The second article is an investigation by James Bamford in The Nation saying that Israel colluded with Trump in the 2016 election to help defeat Hillary Clinton. “While US media fixated on Russian interference in the 2016 election, an Israeli secret agent’s campaign to influence the outcome went unreported,” Bamford writes.

Again, this was a scandal in plain sight: Trump colluded with Israel to try and stop the U.N. Security Council resolution condemning settlements in December 2016, even though Obama wanted that resolution to go through. That foreign interference was never a big deal.

Bamford on Democracy Now explained that the evidence of an “Israeli secret agent sent by Netanyahu” to help the Trump campaign comes from the Department of Justice’s Russiagate investigation, but Justice didn’t do anything with the info. “[A]ll this was redacted from the final Mueller report. All they focused on was Russia.”

The help Israel allegedly provided Trump seems a bit thin — advance knowledge of the DNC-emails-wikileaks that damaged the Clinton campaign. The “collusion… went on for months and months and involved providing the Trump campaign with secret access to the information that the Russians were picking up from Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC.”

Bamford says the Israelis were trying to own Trump if he became president, so that he would fold on issues like the Iran deal, the embassy, the Golan annexation. (I think that Trump was already owned, thanks to the tens of millions of campaign contributions from Sheldon Adelson.)

In the Nation, Bamford notes the real scandal: Israel went unmentioned during Russiagate, by officials and the press.

While the American media and political system fixated on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his armies of cyber warriors, trolls, and bots, what was completely missed in the Russiagate investigation of 2016 was the Israeli connection. No details of it were ever revealed in the heavily redacted Mueller Report. Nor was there any mention of an Israeli plot in the similarly redacted Senate Intelligence Committee Report on collusion charges in the 2016 election, or in any of the indictments or trials stemming from the Russia charges. Nor did any mention of Israeli involvement ever leak into the press.

So this is the omerta– the heresy that it is a career-killer to express. Maybe it won’t destroy careers to talk about Israel’s influence now?

No wonder Democratic Majority for Israel is attacking the Gallup polling: “[S]ympathy is an ambiguous word with multiple meanings. Some — if not most — Democrats likely responded to this poll question based on who they feel ‘sorrier’ for.”

Democratic Majority for Israel doesn’t want us to consider the ways that Netanyahu’s Israel has undermined U.S. policy.

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-2006