The brother-in-law of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that U.S. President Barack Obama is anti-Semitic. The Prime Minister is refuting Hagi Ben-Artzi's statement.
Dr. Hagi Ben-Artzi, a lecturer on Jewish History and Jewish Philosophy at Bar Ilan University and the brother of Benjamin Netanyahu's wife Sarah, made his claim during interviews with Israeli Army Radio, an Israeli TV station and the Jerusalem Post.
Speaking out after the furor that has followed the announcement of the new construction in a city he describes as "the capital of the Israeli nation and the state of Israel" Dr. Ben-Artzi noted in his radio interview:Unfortunately, there is an anti-Semitic president in America. As a politician who ran for president, he had to hide it, but from time to time, it bursts out from inside. It's creating a difficult situation for Israel, but we won't even consider giving up on our deep interests.
For 20 years he sat with the preacher Jeremiah Wright, who is anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli. When an anti-Semitic president comes to power in America, it is our test, and we must say: We will not give up. We are a 4,000-year-old people, while you will pass on and disappear in one or two years. Who will remember you?
Reverend Jeremiah Wright is the man whose outspoken views embarrassed Barack Obama on more than one occasion as he campaigned to become his country's President.
Stating in his radio interview that President Obama has a personal dislike of his brother-in-law, Dr. Ben-Artzi explained when talking to the Jerusalem Post:We must face the reality that not only is the American government not with us but so are most of the Jews in America. We can face this challenge because God is with us, and God gave us the Christian evangelists who we can really rely on to make up for the American Jews who are not friends of Israel. I think Bibi agrees with me on this
With relations between Israel and its traditional ally the U.S. reportedly at their lowest point for 35 years Benjamin Netanyahu has seemingly moved to prevent a further deterioration in those relations by issuing a statement refuting the claim made by his brother-in-law.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli Prime Minister said in his statement:I completely disagree with the statements of Hagi Ben-Artzi. I have deep respect for the president's commitment to Israel's security
A spokesman for the Prime Minister added:This isn't the first time the prime minister totally disagrees with the remarks of Mr. Ben-Artzi which are often directed to Netanyhu himself
According to the BBC, while not responding it seems to the comments made by Dr. Ben-Artzi, President Obama told Fox News that U.S. anger at Israel's announcement that it intends to allow the construction of 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem would not undermine the two countries "special bond". He asserted that "Friends are going to disagree sometimes".
Haaretz observes that President Obama's feelings toward Israel have been under scrutiny since he reached out to the Muslim world in a speech he gave last year in Cairo.
Despite offering reassurances that the U.S. will continue its support for Israel, President Obama is apparently still not trusted by extreme right-wing groups within Israeli society and banners are starting to appear claiming that the U.S. President is an "agent of the PLO".