Gates: Bibi Is ‘Ungrateful Ally’
01/16/2014 - 23:03
Douglas Bloomfield

Add former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to the list of world leaders who consider Bibi Netanyahu insufferable.

The list includes at least two American presidents, a British prime minister, a German chancellor and a French president.

Those countries are Israel’s closest allies, and the problem can’t be shrugged off by dismissing those leaders as anti-Israel or insensitive to Israel’s concerns, as Netanyahu’s defenders do so reflexively. Instead, they should be asking why their guy has so much trouble getting along with so many foreign leaders. 

In his new book, "Duty" Memoirs of a Secretary at War," Gates expresses a warm emotional attachment to Israel and close relations with some leaders, notably former PM and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, but he had an "apparent loathing" for Netanyahu that dates back to Gates' time as deputy national security advisor to President George H.W. Bush (and apparently has only grown since then), according to Jeffrey Goldberg's review of the memoir for Bloomberg news:

Gates writes that he found Netanyahu so offensive that he once tried to get him banned from the White House: “I was offended by his glibness and his criticism of U.S. policy -- not to mention his arrogance and outlandish ambition -- and I told national security adviser Brent Scowcroft that Bibi ought not be allowed back on White House grounds.”

Netanyahu, according to Gates, was "ungrateful" for the support Israel has gotten from the Obama administration.  An "exasperated" Gates told a complaining Netanyahu "no U.S. administration had done more, in concrete ways, for Israel’s strategic defense than Obama’s.” Netanyahu has failed to adequately comprehend security and demographic reality, in Gates' view, Goldberg reported.

 “I, as a very strong friend and supporter of Israel, believe Jerusalem needs to think anew about its strategic environment,. That would require developing stronger relationships with governments that, while not allies, share Israel’s concerns in the region, including those about Iran and the growing political influence of Islamists in the wake of the Arab Spring. … Given a Palestinian birthrate that far outpaces that of Israeli Jews, and the political trends in the region, time is not on Israel’s side.”

Bibi's infamous condescending televised Oval Office lecture of the President of the United States on Jewish history and Arab treachery did lasting damage throughout the administration and beyond, and it solidified his reputation as an ungrateful and arrogant ally.

"Yet the Netanyahu government does little to dispel the notion among its right-wing supporters that the Obama administration is at best a wavering friend. This is self- evidently foolish, especially at a time when Israel faces an existential threat from its menacing neighbor Iran," Goldberg writes.

Netanyahu's hand is seen by many in Washington today as the driving force behind AIPAC's push to enact new sanctions despite administration calls to delay new legislation in order to give the nuclear talks a chance to succeed. It is forcing a confrontation that Israel can only lose.  

view counter

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


Bloomfield's loyalty to the Democrats far surpasses his loyalty to America, Judaism, or Israel. If it isn't left, it isn't Bloomfield. Remember, this is a guy whose career was with the Democrats, starting with Hubert Humphrey. This is not the first time Bloomfield expressed angst about a Jew who stands up for our people.

Reported by Judith Miller, Fox News. 'While Washington has publicly chided its stalwart ally of 30 years [Hosni Mubarak], urging him to stop repressing his people and speed the transition to democracy, only Israel and two conservative Arab monarchies -- the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Saudi Arabia -- have publicly embraced Mubarak.'
This was reported Feb. 2011. Gates was Secretary of Defense.
Egypt 2013, August. Muhammed Morsi has been overthrown. Kerry is Secretary of Defense. 'In spite of the violence and the death toll, a majority of Egyptians support the military and the interim government and their push to restore order and security in Egypt, analysts said.'
What is my point? Obama, with Robert Gates as S.o D., essentially misplayed their hand in Egypt and have done irreparable harm to the US there, and Saudi Arabia, while gaining nothing. Netanyahu warned Washington, correctly, to deaf ears. Knowing this, Bloomfield quotes Gates on Netanyahu? Really?

Anybody who has read any of Mr. Bloomfield's opinions of Benjamin Netanyahu already knows that Bloomfield is not an admirer of Netanyahu. Ok, Bloomfield is entitled to his view. But it is a cheap shot by Bloomfield to use Mr. Gates' words against Netanyahu. First of all, Gates has retired from government service. Does anyone care, anymore, what Robert Gates thinks or does? I don't. In truth, Robert Gates has been a minor figure among US government policy makers for the past decade or so. I rarely agreed with him when he was serving. One more decade from now, in retirement, few people will remember him. In contrast, Netanyahu is a towering world politician who will be remembered, admiringly, for a long, long time.

Though I want my comment to be printed, I fear that my anger toward Mr. Bloomfield for this article will be judged politically incorrect and not publishable. In any case, here goes. I consider Netanyahu the number 1 leader on the world stage today. He is guiding Israel through very difficult and dangerous times rather successfully so far. Who are my other top world leaders? Putin has to be up there - though I despise him, and Angela Merkel. Guess who is not there, because I'm not going to say. There is no such thing as an 'insufferable' leader as Bloomfield says. They are successful or not, roughly on a scale of 1 to 10. Look, judging Netanyahu and Israel in the eyes of the majority of Americans is not hard and its definitely not rocket science. Clearly, Bloomfield missed the class. Netanyahu gave a speech before Congress at their invitation 3 years ago. It was a memorable speech which received several spontaneous standing ovations. There is no way this would happen, no way it could happen if the 500, or so, Congress men and women, elected by the people, didn't agree with and support Netanyahu's message which was assertive and unapologetic. Netanyahu clearly demonstrated leadership that day and many others. I am proud that Netanyahu is Prime Minister of Israel. I believe he's doing an excellent job.

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.