Obama National Security Adviser Suggests Netanyahu is “Corrupt and Cruel”

Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Adviser under the Obama administration, called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “corrupt and cruel” and issued several other criticisms of the pro-Israel community in a February 17 podcast appearance.

Rhodes was a guest on Jewish Currents Editor-at-large Peter Beinart’s “Occupied Thoughts” podcast; according to Jewish Insider, Rhodes blamed Netanyahu for constantly ginning up “the right-wing, pro-Likud media” and posited that Netanyahu believes that “Jews have been screwed throughout history, by a corrupt cruel world. And so you know what, we just have to be corrupt and cruel ourselves. That’s the only way to survive in this world.”

Additionally, Rhodes criticized pro-Israel Democrats for saying that the Palestinians are the reason why a two-state solution has never been achieved. “I got so sick of hearing, ‘Palestinians never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’ But when did we give them one?”

According to the conservative website Washington Free Beacon, Rhodes also claimed that pro-Israel groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) threaten to cancel fundraisers for Democratic politicians should they not vote their way. He added that pro-Israel Democrats have allowed the discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to center around the premises put forth by Netanyahu as well former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Some Jewish groups criticized Rhodes’ comments.

“He talks about Israel like Israel is an enemy of the United States and the U.S. shouldn’t be so defensive when dealing with an Israeli government, when in fact Israel has proven again and again to be Israel’s most reliable ally in the region and beyond,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Journal in a phone interview. He added that he doesn’t think Rhodes speaks for the current Biden administration.

Liora Rez, director of the Stop Antisemitism.org watchdog, similarly said in a statement to the Journal, “Ben is Ben, he never misses an opportunity to bash Israel or her supporters regardless of who’s sitting in the White House.”

On the other hand, Jewish Telegraphic Agency Washington Bureau Chief Correspondent Ron Kampeas tweeted that he didn’t think Rhodes said anything that was particularly controversial, arguing that Rhodes simply “said conservative media is pro-Likud and that mainstream media loves domestic Israel conflict, which made his job hard. The former is a silly way of saying conservative media share a hawkish outlook with Netanyahu, which is true. The latter also true.”

Noah Pollak, executive director of the newly formed foreign policy organization Democracy Alliance Institute, tweeted in response to Kampeas, “Poor Ben Rhodes. The obsessive, hacky, almost always hostile to Israel MSM made his job of being anti-Israel harder. All the lulz.”

Lara Friedman, President of Foundation for Middle East Peace that platforms Beinart’s podcast, tweeted that some of those criticizing Rhodes’ remarks are conflating “criticism of Israel with antisemitism.”

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