Leave it to Barak Ravid, the Haaretz reporter whose job it is to publish anti-American gripes from unnamed Israeli government officials, to muddy the waters a week before the US elections. His latest article cites a "senior Israeli government source" who reports on leaks from "closed forums in France" in which rightwing President Nicolas Sarkozy, after meeting Obama in July (!) , criticized his position on Iran as "utterly immature." Read the gossip here.
Update: In the meantime, the French Embassy denied the report. See about it here
OK, so this is how it works. The Israeli government wants to get the word out: Obama is dangerous because he is soft on Iran. Of course, it doesn't want to go public because that would look as if it is interfering in the US elections. So it finds a friendly reporter – usually, Ravid – to publish a leak. This way of criticizing America has been going on for some time, and I have blogged about it before.
Of course, there is something truly comical in thinking that a comment by Sarkozy in a closed forum last summer (if his comments were accurately reported) will have any impact on anybody – especially since Sarkozy's disapproval rating is now 56%. But any port in a storm.
Last week the Israeli government did the same thing. Getting nervous about the Obama lead, a "senior government source" told Ravid that if Obama is elected, he will initiate direct talks with Tehran, and "a critical Israeli interest would be to condition any talks between the West and Iran on halting uranium enrichment." The timing of this announcement, two weeks before the elections, was not conincidental. It implied that Barak Obama constituted a danger to Israel, and that his election will provoke a concerted Israeli diplomatic response (as if anybody could care about that).
In one week Barack Obama, according to the polls, will be elected president by a resounding majority, and with him a Democratic congress with an even more resounding majority. True, the congress will be predictably "pro-Israel," as will be Obama, but there will be a difference.
And, as Sarkozy was heard to say in a closed forum (according to senior officials), "Vive la différence."