If Bibi Wasn’t Wanted, Maybe Obama Wasn’t Either?

The usual suspects are up in arms that President Obama neither attended nor sent a representative to Paris’ unity rally yesterday.

But I wonder whether the US was not invited?

Ha’aretz has a report on how Bibi Netanyahu was not invited — but decided to show anyway, once his political rivals decided to attend. So Francois Hollande invited

French President Francois Hollande conveyed a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the weekend asking him not to come to Paris to take part in the march against terror on Sunday, according to an Israeli source who was privy to the contacts between the Elysees Palace and the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The fact that this message had been conveyed was first reported by Channel 2.

After the French government began to send invitations to world leaders to participate in the rally against terror, Hollande’s national security adviser, Jacques Audibert, contacted his Israeli counterpart, Yossi Cohen, and said that Hollande would prefer that Netanyahu not attend, the source said.

Audibert explained that Hollande wanted the event to focus on demonstrating solidarity with France, and to avoid anything liable to divert attention to other controversial issues, like Jewish-Muslim relations or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Audibert said that Hollande hoped that Netanyahu would understand the difficulties his arrival might pose and would announce that he would not be attending.

[snip]

However, on Saturday night, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett announced their intention to go to Paris and take part in the march and meet with the Jewish community. When Netanyahu heard they were going, he informed the French he would be attending the march after all.

According to the source, when Cohen informed Audibert that Netanyahu would be attending the event after all, Audibert angrily told Cohen that the prime minister’s conduct would have an adverse effect on ties between the two countries as long as Hollande was president of France and Netanyahu was prime minister of Israel.

Audibert made it clear that in light of Netanyahu’s intention to arrive, an invitation would also be extended to Abbas. And indeed, several hours after Abbas announced that he would not be traveling to Paris, his office issued a statement stating that he would in fact be at the march.

Meanwhile, Andrea Mitchell tweeted,

Official tells me POTUS/VP weren’t invited to Paris + security for them wld have been disruptive – so U.S.signaled France not to invite?

People don’t seem to get this, but the same reason (aside from security) why Bibi would be an unwelcome symbol would also make the US an unwelcome symbol. While Bibi is violently occupying Palestinian lands, the US is only just pulling out of Afghanistan, is reentering Iraq, and continues to drone strike in Sanaa. Moreover, Sharif Kouachi tried to travel to Iraq in 2005 in response to the war and, more specifically, Abu Ghraib. He and his brother did succeed in traveling to Yemen in 2011, and received some training, at a time when AQAP considered the US a key source of grievance. It wasn’t so much that these guys started radical and got worse after our multiple wars against Islamic countries; on the contrary, the US was, to a significant extent, the grievance.

That doesn’t excuse murder. But if Hollande was trying to eliminate the symbols of aggression against Muslims, then asking Obama to stay away would be of a piece with asking Bibi to stay away, even if Obama (and the US) is far less aggressive about dehumanizing Muslims.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

16 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    Yes, exactly right.
    .
    This affair, in Europe and the U.S., is now turning into an elevated anti-Muslim campaign, a sort of ‘new beginning’ which may have been intended all along considering its beneficial effects on the National Security State(s).
    .
    It’s the most dangerous time ever for the U.S., with a new foreign travel caution issued by State. Thank you Washington for making it dangerous for U.S. citizens to travel everywhere in the world, as a result of the New Crusades in the Middle East. Mission accomplished.
    .
    PS: I just learned something I never knew, and that is that the Crusades lasted for not just years but centuries.

    • P J Evans says:

      The first crusade was a little before 1100. The last one was – well, it depends on how you define crusades. The last Moors were expelled from Spain in the late 15th century, but there were crusades against groups in northern and eastern Europe. The last crusades into Palestine were a little before 1300.

  2. chetnolian says:

    C’mon guys! Can anyone imagine the US security system even thinking of allowing POTUS to take part? Did you see the march? Did you see all these people crammed together?

  3. bloopie2 says:

    I think any further freedom marches best stay away from Notre-Dame de Paris. My guess is that the missing terrorist is safely ensconced in the tower, claiming the right to sanctuary (one of France’s great achievements – certainly they wouldn’t take it away now, would they?) And, she’s ready to pour molten lead down from the ramparts (or am I mixing my histories there?) (Quasimodo, he was a Muslim, right?) So much to remember, ah.

  4. P J Evans says:

    If Mr O had gone, the usual suspects would be whining about the cost of the trip and how unnecessary it was.

  5. Evangelista says:

    To Don Bacon and P J Evans,

    The last official Crusade, meaning the last Crusade Jihad called for by the Roman Church Pope to carry out his Fatwa’ against heretics or infidels, was the European Crusade, near the end of the 13th century. It wiped out the bases of the altenatives to the Roman Christian religion, but not all believers, who survived by merging and re-emerged in various protestant sects, except for what were designated “Witch Cults”, actually only a branch of the old religion, which venerated the original “Mother of The Christ”. Roman Church Marianism, veneration of Mary, Mother of Jesus (the second Christ) was initiated to provide women an alternative to martyrdom for the original one, because too many were opting for the martyrdom instead of a warrior-male deity-priest structure. Slaughters of “witches” continued into the 17th century.

    • P J Evans says:

      I was trying to keep it relatively simple, and filed those under ‘northern and eastern Europe’ – because they don’t get much notice in western European history.

  6. Kathleen says:

    Over and over MSM repeating not enough time to set up security for Obama or Biden. Then big question where was Kerry? Makes sense that Obama would not be invited if Bibi was not…if they were really focused on spotlighting terrorism. Lots of people (Muslims) dead in U.S. tracks. That would clearly apply to Israel too. I had read that both Bibi and Abbas were discouraged…then that Abbas decided to go then Bibi. Anyway having terrorist nation states in the front row sure does not bode well for the message they were allegedly trying to portray. Mondoweiss and Informed Comment have some great pieces up about this issue

  7. Don Bacon says:

    I assume that the surrounding buildings were cleared for that photo op of the world “leaders” on the empty street, so no security concerns existed.

  8. Anon says:

    Just to add a grain of salt, the reporting on the un-invitation is all coming from Netanyahu’s side and fits in with his self-cultivated narrative of bravely saving Israel against all enemies. Notice that he is able to have his cake (“They won’t invite me because they are scared”) and eat it too (“I showed up, that showed em!”).
    .
    On the other hand he also apparently spent time after the march publicly encouraging France’s Jewish population to leave en-masse and come to Israel where they would be safe from terrorism (?) so if the story was true perhaps they had good reason.

  9. Kathleen says:

    ot.anyone here a regular over at Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett’s place “Going to Tehran?” Have been following everything they write and say on media outlets for years. Now nothing new posted in almost three months. MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry had Hillary on to discuss foreign policy I believe it was four times this summer. Refreshing as it can get in my book. However nothing coming out of the two of them at their site. Hoping that maybe Obama became even more sensible about negotiations with Iran and they are now analyst for the administration or something. Anyone know why they are MIA?

  10. Teddy says:

    The French likely wanted an event not overshadowed by the US and our botched response to 9/11. It’s entirely conceivable that Hollande said to our ambassador, “Your presence will be quite enough.”

    I mean, Putin wasn’t there either, was he?

Comments are closed.