There is no question about whether President Obama — along with Secretary of State John Kerry and the editorial pages of many newspapers — has a particular dislike of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But there is another question: Why? And the answer is due to an important rule of life that too few people are aware of:
Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.
Take the case at hand. The prime minister of Israel is at the forefront of the greatest battle against evil in our time — the battle against violent Muslims. No country other than Israel is threatened with extinction, and it is Iran and the many Islamic terror organizations that pose that threat.
It only makes sense, then, that no other country feels the need to warn the world about Iran and Islamic terror as much as does Israel. That’s why when Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to the United Nations about the threat Iran poses to his country’s survival and about the metastasizing cancer of Islamist violence, he, unfortunately, stands alone.
Virtually everyone listening knows he is telling the truth. And most dislike him for it. Appeasers hate those who confront evil.
Given that this president is the least likely of any president in American history to confront evil — or even identify it — while Benjamin Netanyahu is particularly vocal and eloquent about both identifying and confronting evil, it is inevitable that the former will resent the latter.
The negotiations with Iran over its nuclear weapons program are today’s quintessential example. Those who will not confront a tyranny engaged in terror from Argentina to the Middle East, and which is committed to annihilating another country, will deeply resent Israel and its leader.
For those who doubt the truth of this Rule of Life, there are plenty of other examples.
Take the Cold War. Those who lived through it will recall that those who refused to confront Communism vilified those who did. Indeed, they vilified anyone who merely labeled Communism evil. When President Ronald Reagan declared the Soviet Union an “evil empire,” he was excoriated by those who refused to do so. Yet, if the words “evil” and “empire” have any meaning, they perfectly applied to the Soviet Union. But to those who opposed Reagan, these words could not be applied to the Soviet Union.
New York Times columnists lambasted the president for using such language. The newspaper’s most prestigious columnist at the time, James Reston, condemned Reagan for his “violent criticism of Russians as an evil society.”
Anthony Lewis accused Reagan of using “simplistic theology.” Reagan was using “a black and white standard to something that is much more complex.”
Tom Wicker wrote that “the greater danger” than the spread of Communism “lies in Mr. Reagan’s vision of the superpower relationship as Good versus Evil.”
Columnist Russell Baker added his contempt for Reagan’s characterization of the Soviet Union. And, in a long Times article under the headline, “Reagan’s Gaffe,” an unnamed “strategist” for former vice president Walter Mondale told the newspaper that “Mr. Reagan had undercut diplomatic efforts of recent months” — exactly as the Times and the Obama administration now describe Benjamin Netanyahu doing to the negotiations with Iran.
(For a detailed description of the reactions to Ronald Reagan’s anti-Communism, see Ann Coulter’s book Treason.)
Some 20 years later, when President George W. Bush characterized the regimes of North Korea, Iraq, and Iran as an “Axis of Evil,” he was likewise lampooned — as if those mass-murderous tyrannies were not evil.
In short, those who refused to characterize the Soviet Union as evil loathed Ronald Reagan and other anti-Communists for doing so; and those who objected to the “Axis of Evil” label placed on North Korea, Iran, and Iraq loathed George W. Bush and his supporters. The loathing of Benjamin Netanyahu is simply the latest example of the rule that those who will not confront evil will instead confront those who do. (It’s much safer, after all.)
Since the end of World War II, there has been a name for the people who refuse to confront evil and who resent those who do: Leftists.
— Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host and columnist. His most recent book is Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph. He is the founder of Prager University and may be contacted at dennisprager.com.