NBC's Mitchell Admonishes 'Really Rude' Netanyahu Treating Obama 'Like a School Boy'

At the end of Sunday's Meet the Press, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell scolded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for daring to criticize President Obama's call for Israel to return to 1967 borders: "...he criticized the President, and in such a fashion! He lectured him in the Oval Office....basically treating him like a school boy."

Mitchell went on to declare: "People even who work for Netanyahu, some Israeli officials, told him later that he went too far. That it was, it was really rude and that there would be blowback to this." The leading voice of criticism in Israel was Netanyahu's liberal political opponent, Tzipi Livini, who also called on the Prime Minister to resign.

On her 1PM ET hour MSNBC show on Friday, Mitchell also took Republican presidential candidates to task for denouncing Obama's call for pre-1967 war borders in Israel, remarking: "Whatever happened to politics ending at the water's edge?"
    
On Meet the Press, moments after Mitchell's rant against Netanyahu, Democratic Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen mimicked her Friday concerns: "I think the Republicans make a very serious mistake if they decide to politicize this issue. The support for Israel in the United States has always been a bipartisan issue, and I don't think it serves anybody's interests, not the United States' interests, nor the interests of Israel, to have this become a big partisan issue."

Only fellow panelist, Republican strategist Mike Murphy, acknowledged the serious mistake Obama had made: "I think he'll be in full retreat, but I'll bet we pick up 75,000 votes in Florida, which could be a lot....It was a clumsy move by the President." However, Murphy added: "Just those sentences. The rest of the speech was great."


Here is a full transcript of the May 22 Meet the Press exchange:

11:25AM ET

(...)

DAVID GREGORY: At the same time, what's happening today, we want to take you live here in Washington, D.C., to the scene of AIPAC. This is the pro-Israel lobby, very powerful in the United States. The President will be speaking here, Andrea Mitchell, and this is on the heels of a rupture with Israel. The President said this week that any peace plan, a Palestinian state would have to go back to the borders of prior to the 1967 war. This was significant.

ANDREA MITCHELL: He did have language that said there would be land swaps to protect Israel's security, but it was taken as a red flag by Netanyahu. And what happened then was that even if this was implicit in things that previous presidents had said, Netanyahu seized on it. Even before he got on the plane, he criticized the President, and in such a fashion! He lectured him in the Oval Office. And if you look at that picture that you have up there right now, it was a stone-faced Barack Obama and Netanyahu basically treating him like a school boy. People even who work for Netanyahu, some Israeli officials, told him later that he went too far. That it was, it was really rude and that there would be blowback to this.

GREGORY: And, Congressman, you know this well, having run a lot of campaigns, and for the party, particularly with a big Jewish vote in Florida. You have Governor Romney, Governor Pawlenty and others saying, essentially, that the President threw Israel under the bus. Is there going to be blowback here politically?

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN [REP. D-MD]: Well, first of all, I think that the – this will, this will blow over pretty quickly. I think that they'll be a quick reconciliation on this point. Number two, I think the Republicans make a very serious mistake if they decide to politicize this issue. The support for Israel in the United States has always been a bipartisan issue, and I don't think it serves anybody's interests, not the United States' interests, nor the interests of Israel, to have this become a big partisan issue. And let's remember, the President in his speech emphasized the fact that the United States has an unshakeable commitment to the security of Israel. He made it clear he does not expect the Israelis to deal with a coalition government with Hamas, so long as they refuse to renounce violence and refuse to accept the right of Israel. And finally, he threw cold water on the Palestinian idea of going to the United Nations. So there was a lot in here for-

MITCHELL: But that's not what Netanyahu-

GREGORY: Ten, ten seconds.  Mike Murphy, does the President get a bad reception at this very important conference here in Washington?

MURPHY: I think he'll be in full retreat, but I'll bet we pick up 75,000 votes in Florida, which could be a lot.

GREGORY: Which you think is, will be significant.

MURPHY: It was a clumsy move by the President. Just those sentences. The rest of the speech was great.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC