In the commotion surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address before Congress, Fox News and their partners in rightist propaganda insisted that anyone who did not support his appearance and hawkish agenda were anti-Israel and even anti-Semitic. However, that view is not shared by most Americans or most Israelis.
Subsequent to the speech, Netanhayu’s popularity has dropped in the U.S. to 38% favorable. Clearly the speech was not well received by Americans. That decline puts Netanyahu’s rating more than ten points lower than President Obama. And if you think that’s bad, his host, GOP Speaker John Boehner, is now more than ten points lower than Netanyahu.
Critics of the speech warned that it was inappropriate for Congress to provide a platform for a foreign official who was currently engaged in a political campaign. Those warnings were borne out when shortly after Netanyahu returned to Israel to resume his reelection effort he released an ad featuring video of the U.S. Congress applauding him. So Boehner was successfully suckered by Netanyahu into helping him produce campaign materials.
Despite this international assistance, Netanyahu’s reelection bid is struggling. He has fallen further behind his main opponent, Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog. And now, with the prospect of Netanyahu losing, Fox News and Republicans in Congress are laying the groundwork for an explanation for the failure of their hero. They are promoting an allegation that the Obama administration is interfering with Israeli elections in order to defeat Netanyahu. Of course they are. Like everything else – Netanyahu losing would be Obama’s fault.
The conspiracy revolves around their discovery that a former Obama campaign operative is working for a group that opposes Netanyahu’s reelection. That is an entirely routine activity. It is precisely what campaign consultants of both parties do for a living. But that didn’t stop Fox News from reporting in multiple segments an alleged effort by the administration to oust Netanyahu. The allegations are so important to Fox that on Sunday morning anchor Uma Pemmaraju interrupted a segment about Hillary Clinton’s email to ask about the Israeli election and a rumored Senate inquiry:
“There is a Senate probe apparently, that is launched, a bipartisan probe, to investigate concerns about a non-profit agency taking government funds to try and be involved in interfering with Israeli elections set for Tuesday. […] This particular group, apparently, has ties to the White House, no direct link has been determined at this point about whether the White House has been sending operatives into Israel to be involved with interfering in upcoming elections set for Tuesday. But the fact that if this group is found to have used government grants, up to $350,000 from the State Department, that would be a real violation of ethics and raise some big concerns.”
Twice in that “question” Pemmaraju used the loaded phrase “interfering with Israeli elections,” even though she also admitted that there was “no direct link” to Obama. Media Matters documented efforts to advance this smear a month ago by rightist fringe groups. Now it has percolated up to Fox News and senate investigators. Media Matters showed that political consultants from both sides frequently do work in other countries (like good capitalists). They also showed that former Obama operatives have worked in support of Netanyahu. And the allegations of federal funding were shown to have no merit as the funds were not used in conjunction with any campaign because the elections had not even been announced at the time.
So the facts show that there is no effort on the part of the White House to interfere with the Israeli elections. However, Speaker Boehner and Republicans in congress did interfere with Israeli elections by providing candidate Netanyahu with a platform and campaign material. They also permitted Netanyahu to interfere with American politics by trying to sway foreign policy in opposition to diplomacy with Iran.
And after this brazenly partisan, factless, regurgitation of an unsupported wingnut conspiracy theory, Fox News returned to their regular anti-Obama programming with Pemmaraju employing this subtle segue: “Turning now to the Select Committee investigating Benghazi…” Of course. What else?
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