CHARLOTTE, NC, July 30, 2014 – What happens when both sides of a story that has been leaked to the press deny its accuracy but the source that published it stands by its report?
Once upon a time, before he took over “The Tonight Show,” the late Johnny Carson hosted a television quiz show called “Who Do You Trust.” Carson is gone, but we are still playing “Who Do You Trust” when it comes to figuring out what is real and what is not in the news.
According to Israel’s Channel 1, an anonymous “senior American official” provided them with a transcript of a contentious telephone conversation between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which Obama is said to be “rude and condescending in a hostile manner.”
Both sides vehemently decry the accuracy of the verbal exchange but there are some problems with the denials.
First, both responses to the report used exactly the same words:
“We have seen these reports, and neither the reports nor the alleged transcript bear any resemblance to reality. It’s shocking and disappointing that someone would sink to misrepresenting a private conversation between the President and the Prime Minister in fabrications to the Israeli press.”
Second, and perhaps more important, is that the president has a long track record of playing fast and loose with the truth.
Third, is John Kerry’s recent proposal for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that was so one sided in favor of Hamas it gives added credibility to the possibility that the conversation actually did take place.
Following is the portion of the dialogue in question which has been excerpted from the much longer phone call.
Obama: I demand that Israel agree to a unilateral ceasefire and stop all offensive actions – especially air strikes.
Netanyahu: What will Israel get for stopping the fire?
Obama: I believe Hamas will stop the rocket firing – quiet for quiet.
Netanyahu: Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terror organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction.
Obama: I repeat that I expect Israel to stop all military actions unilaterally. The destruction pictures from Gaza are distancing the world from Israel’s standpoint.
Netanyahu: Kerry’s offer was completely unrealistic and offered Hamas military and political advantages.
Obama: Within a week after Israel stops its military actions, Qatar and Turkey will start negotiating with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, among them Israel’s commitment to lift the siege and limitations of Gaza.
Netanyahu: Qatar and Turkey are Hamas’ greatest supporters. It’s impossible to trust them to be fair mediators.
Obama: I trust Qatar and Turkey…Israel is not in a position to choose the mediators.
Netanyahu: I caution that Hamas will be able to continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks…
Obama: (cutting off Netanyahu) The ball is in Israel’s court and it has to stop all its military actions.
On initial reading the “transcript” is confrontational and impolite. After further review however, it does not appear to use words in the manner that either Obama or Netanyahu speaks.
Some journalists have claimed the gist of the conversation might be accurate, but taken as a bona fide transcript it is not.
Others believe it could be the result of that old telephone conversation game where you begin with a secret and pass it around the room to everyone else before you finally see how it has changed after several interpretations.
In other words, the reported “transcript” may have been altered through several iterations to the point where its meaning has also been corrupted. Indeed, several versions of the transcript printed above do use different words in several places.
On the other hand, as Raymond Ibrahim, a noted Middle East expert says, “every Muslim nation the U.S. has interfered in—whether to promote ‘democracy,’ as in the much ballyhooed ‘Arab Spring,’ or to defeat ‘terrorism’ and/or eliminate ‘WMDs’—has seen two results: the empowerment of Islamists, followed by chaos, conflict, and constant atrocities.
“Other leaders, such as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, indirectly point to the Obama administration’s failures in the Middle East.”
That much is evident, if for no other reasons than the on-going devastation we continue to see and hear on a daily basis from the Middle East.
If true, this story demonstrates just how far from grace this country has fallen under Barack Obama.
And even if it is not, the fact the American people and the media have become so dramatically polarized in a little more than five years, can be directly traced to the leadership, or lack thereof, we have endured.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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