Israel versus Hezbollah? Those exchanges pale in comparison to the crossfire between MSNBC host Tucker Carlson and former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 'Bibi' Netanyahu on this afternoon's 'Tucker'. Alright, perhaps I exaggerate a tad, but there was no mistaking Netanyahu's anger at the way Carlson framed the issue of Americans in Lebanon.
Here's how Carlson, who made the plight of the estimated 25,000 Americans in Lebanon a theme of the show, introduced Netanyahu:
"25,000 Americans are trapped as the nation of Lebanon continues to come under fire from Israeli airstrikes. . . Thousands of US citizens are stranded and Israel is doing nothing to help them. Or is it? What will it take to get our people out of harm's way? Here to answer that question is Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel from 1996-99."
Fired back Bibi: "I was amazed at the way you just presented the problem."
Carlson was unrepentant: "It is a problem. It is a problem for Americans, and what is Israel doing to help? Is Israel taking active steps to help Americans get out of Beirut, do you know?"
Bibi: "Of course it will, I have no doubt about that. Israel is the unabashed friend of the United States through thick and thin, and we face the same enemy. Just Imagine that enemy pounding Chicago with rockets. Of course you'd take action. You'd probably take at least as intense an action as we're taking to try to hit the terrorists, I imagine even more."
Carlson: "I'm not in any way arguing against Israel's assault on Lebanon. I'm merely asking as an American the obvious question - how are the Americans in Lebanon faring and what is Israel doing to help them? . . . I'm asking it specifically because it's suggested that the blockade of the port of Beirut has made it impossible for ferries to land and bring those Americans out of the country. In other words, Israel is preventing Americans from being evacuated, say our news organizations here, and I'm merely asking you is that true and how long will it go on."
Netanyahu: "I don't know. But if it is true, I have no doubt that the [Israeli] government will make every effort to enable those Americans who leave Lebanon. The last thing we he want to do is hurt innocent people. Americans or anyone else, but especially Americans, so I'm sure that problem will be resolved. Our larger problem, the problem that Americans face too, is this mad Islamic militancy which is giving us a prelude to what would happen if the regime in Iran gets atomic bombs. These people have no problem in rocketing and bombing anything in sight and if they had the weapons of mass death, like atomic bombs, then I think the whole world would be if danger."
Update: It was subsequently reported on 'Hardball' that the great majority of Americans in Lebanon have dual citizenship, and that of the 25,000 perhaps 5,000 would want to be evacuated.