— Sari Weintraub
Earlier this week, the so-called Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) released a robocall featuring a “debate” that never occurred between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In reality, it was a mash-up of speeches and phrases from different times during the last three years.
We at NJDC thought that it would be fun to follow ECI’s absurd lead and create our own recording featuring ECI Board member Bill Kristol, but using an extended excerpt from a recent speech noting how he really feels about the President’s policies. Click here or on the audio player below to listen. Note: unlike ECI, we’re not subjecting unsuspecting Jewish households to this recording while they’re trying to eat dinner. And unlike ECI’s recording, Kristol said these things during the same speech. Go figure.
Details after the jump
This week, The Washington Post fact-checked a robocall message sponsored by the so-called Emergency Committee for Israel and rated it “Four Pinocchios” for its blatantly misleading messaging. The content of the call is portrayed as a “debate” between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, using snippets of dialogue from several different speeches over the last three years. The result was a call which the Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler called “one of the most ridiculous attacks” of this campaign:
In sum, the Emergency Committee has twisted the meaning of Obama’s and Netanyahu’s words. An Obama statement condemning Iran’s government is rendered into weak-kneed ‘respect’ for Iran, while a Netanyahu expression of U.S.-Israel solidarity on Iran is turned into a point of disagreement…
There is no excuse for such an Orwellian descent into falsehoods and misrepresentation.
Ron Kampeas at JTA first noted the deceiving robocall, saying that “the deceptions in this one are a little stunning,” and Tablet’s Adam Chandler agreed, calling ECI’s latest attempt to smear the President on Israel “sad” (emphasis added):
The first deception came when with the robocall’s ID, which led callers to think they were being personally phoned by ECI Founder Bill Kristol — the veritable dream scenario for maybe 14% of American Jews. But when callers actually answered there were treated to recordings of a fake ‘debate’ that never actually took place between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, using spliced quotes and half-uttered sentences…
The desired effect is to create hysteria among voters who may not exactly know what’s going on and mislead them into thinking that President Obama’s positions are not what nearly four years of his policy have reflected. The result is kind of sad.
It’s this season for cheap and dirty politics, yes, but this is actually a metaphor for what’s wrong with the conversation happening about Israel in American politics right now. It is a triumph that the issues surrounding Israel’s strength and security enjoy such widespread support among American leaders. But with efforts like these robocalls in mind, the farther away that Americans are from understanding what’s really driving the discourse on crucial issues like Jerusalem and Iran’s nuclear program, the greater the difficulty there will be in forging the necessary bipartisan support required to honestly confront these issues in the future, no matter who wins on Tuesday…
But rather than make substantive points, the ECI seems to prefer to act as if Americans are stupid. It doesn’t seem like an exaggeration to say that provoking this hysteria hurts Israel in the long run.