After last night’s interview with Benjamin Netanyahu, Larry King’s interminable panel discussions about self destructive celebutards just won’t be mesmerizing anymore. Larry’s sixteen remaining viewers enjoyed not only a vital history lesson, but the satisfaction of watching a Jiu-Jitsu master in action.
Foregoing his traditional journalistic styling—“So tell me, do they have American Idol in your country?”—King started out by trying to provoke Netanyahu into affirming that his relationship with Barack Obama is something less than optimal. Asking and re-asking the same question approximately thirty-seven times, Netanyahu held steady with his insistence that America and Israel are allies and have been for a long time and will continue to be in the future, irrespective of regime changes in either country. And Bibi didn’t get kicked out via the Dali Lama Door.
Finally ditching this entirely futile line of questioning, King moved in for what he hoped would be the superlative gotcha: will you meet with the Palestinians?:
That’s a very — that’s an excellent question that I’ve been asking for a year and a quarter, ever since I got into office. On day one that I got in, I said President Abbas, the Palestinian president, meet me and let’s talk peace.
And I use this forum today, on the ‘Larry King’ show, to say, President Abbas, meet me, and let’s talk peace. We all have our grievances. We all have our, you know, our questions and things that we want answered. But the most important thing is to get together, sit down in a room and begin to negotiate peace. You cannot resolve a conflict, you cannot successfully complete a peace negotiation if you don’t start it.
And I say let’s start it right now, today, tomorrow, in Jerusalem, in Ramallah or anywhere else. I’m prepared to go to a warm city like New York or a cool city anywhere. Let’s get on with the business of talking peace and concluding the peace agreement.
King wanted to know what’s holding up these urgent talks, as he campaigned for his own Nobel Prize:
So, forgive me, what’s holding it up? He could watch this show. We did a show some years ago with Arafat, with Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein of Jordan, a historic show. I was in Washington. The three of them were in their homelands. It was terrific. Why can’t — would you do that, if we had you and Abbas and we had the king of Jordan on? Could we do that now?
Netanyahu’s reply: call me, Mahmoud!
Well, I’m just saying that you’re hitting the nail right on the head. I mean, what is there to prevent a meeting between the prime minister of Israel, in Jerusalem, and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who’s 10 minutes away in Ramallah, that’s when you have traffic. Without traffic, it’s seven minutes.
I really like and respect Senator George Mitchell, President Obama’s envoy to the Middle East. But I find it perplexing and unnecessary that president — that Senator Mitchell has to travel halfway across the world to relay messages between President Abbas and myself. There’s no need for that. We should sit down. We have very serious issues to discuss. Our security, the question of where the borders will end up, the question of settlements, the question of Palestinian refugees, the question of water. All these things are crucially important.
Netanyahu went on to point out that it is the Palestinians who are dodging peace talks with unending delays and prerequisites. Israel, by contrast, has only one teensy precondition: recognize our existence. Frustrated with the manifest unreasonableness of Israel’s demand, King went after the settlement issue, only to be shot down yet again with facts:
Seven months ago, I did something quite extraordinary, that is, no other prime minister in Israel’s history did this. I put on a temporary freeze of 10 months of new construction in the settlements in order to encourage the Palestinians to get into the peace talks. Seven months have passed by. They don’t come in. They say, oh, we need now, another extension. And the answer is, right now, listen, we don’t need any pretext and preconditions. Let’s just get into the talks.
Having blundered all attempts to goad Netanyahu, King predictably brought up the Bill Ayers Gaza “Aid” Flotilla giving the Prime Minister the chance to educate the handful of King viewers still engaged:
I think that what people fail to recognize is that there were six ships. Five of them were totally peaceful and nothing of substance happened. Our navy checked these ships. And we didn’t have any incident. The sixth ship was very different. It had about 500 people on it, of which about 450 were peaceful people.
But several dozen were activists of a very radical group that had apparently amassed steel rods, knives, communication equipment. They boarded differently than the other passengers, the other 450 passengers, boarded in one port in Turkey. They went through security checks. These people boarded in another port in Istanbul. They didn’t go through any security checks. They had their own communication equipment. They had their own — their own steel pipes and things that they brought on board.
And when our Coast Guard effectively wanted to check this ship and make sure that it behaved the way the other five did, they were brutally attacked. You can see that in the films that were released. Our soldiers, our navy people were fighting for their lives.
What would you do if the Coast Guard boarded a ship and the Coast Guard was brutally attacked by people who were, you know, clubbing them, knifing them, taking weapons from them, shooting at them? What do you think would happen? How do you think the American people would respond?
Evoking images of our own Coast Guard adroitly corrected the entire chronicle.
Netanyahu also made a preemptive strike against Jimmy Carter long before King was able to remind the Prime Minister about Carter’s anti Semitic ravings. Bibi accurately pointed out that Israel once had a relationship with Iran.
The true master stroke was Bibi’s tethering of any future attacks against Iran to Obama:
KING: If you determined that they had nuclear capability, would you attack Iran?
NETANYAHU: You know, I’ve taken note of President Obama’s statement that he’s determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Thus, as long as Obama can use his fabled magnetism to keep Iran from getting nukes, there will be no reason for Israel to attack.
It’s all on you, Mr. President.