Obama’s Faux Pas with French President Is Setback to Relationship with Israel
Journalists at the recent G20 economic summit in Cannes, France, were privy to a story they hadn’t planned on covering.
During a private conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Israeli Prime MinisterBenjamin Netanyahu a “liar.” The insult was inadvertently and eventually heard around the world when it was accidentally carried by open microphones prior to a news conference featuring Obama and Sarkozy.
A French web site reported on the conversation, with Sarkozy saying, “I can’t stand him. He’s a liar,” to which Obama replied, “You’re tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day.” Journalists had originally agreed not to report on the conversation. Once leaked, news outlets throughout the world carried the story.
The White House made no comment on the conversation, but stated, “The President’s position has been quite clear on the issue of efforts by the Palestinians to achieve through the U.N. what can only be achieved effectively through direct negotiations.” Netanyahu’s office also had no comment.
Back in the U.S., the Anti-Defamation League, which seeks to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all citizens, said it was “deeply disappointed and saddened” by the conversation, warning that it could hurt ties between Israel and two key players in the Middle East peace process.
A Comment From FOI Executive Director, Bill Sutter
“As some in the U.S. have worked so hard to build up our relationship with Israel, this embarrassing gaffe is a significant setback,” said Bill Sutter, executive director of The Friends of Israel. “It’s unfortunate that our own President has been less than supportive of Israel-directly and indirectly-at a time when the country needs her allies more than ever.”