Dershowitz: Obama meddles in Brexit but shuns Netanyahu on Iran

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President Barack Obama’s “intrusion” in the UK’s decision on leaving the European Union reeks of hypocrisy, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said.

In a column published on April 22, Dershowitz noted “how outraged the same President Obama was when the prime minister of a friendly country, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke his mind about the Iran Deal.

President Barack Obama speaks at the "town hall" discussion with British youth at the Royal Horticultural Halls on April 23 in London. /Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
President Barack Obama speaks at the Royal Horticultural Halls on April 23 in London. /Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

“Obama came down squarely on the side of Britain remaining in the European Union – a decision I tend to agree with on its merits. But he was much criticized by the British media and British politicians for intruding into a debate about the future of Europe and Britain’s role in it,” Dershowitz wrote.

Obama didn’t stop at “merely giving the British voters unsolicited advice, he also issued a not so veiled threat.  He said that ‘The UK is going to be in the back of the queue’ on trade agreements if they exit the EU.”

There are some differences between Obama’s meddling and Netanyahu’s vocal opposition to the Iran deal, Dershowitz pointed out:

“First, Israel has a far greater stake in the Iran deal than the United States has in whatever decision the British voters make about Brexit: and second, Benjamin Netanyahu was representing the nearly unanimous view of his countrymen, whereas there is no evidence that Americans favor or oppose Brexit in large numbers.

“Another difference, of course, is that Obama was invited to speak by Cameron, whereas, Netanyahu was essentially disinvited by Obama. But under our tripartite system of government, that fact is monumentally irrelevant. Netanyahu was invited by a co-equal branch of the government, namely Congress, which has equal authority over foreign policy with the president and equal authority to invite a friendly leader.

“Moreover, not only are the British voters divided over Brexit, but the conservative party itself is deeply divided.

“Indeed, the leading political figure in opposition to Britain remaining in the EU is a potential successor to Cameron as leader of the Conservative party.  So these differences certainly don’t explain the inconsistency between Obama’s interference in British affairs and his criticism of Netanyahu for accepting an invitation from Congress to express his country’s views on an issue directly affecting its national security,” Dershowtiz wrote.

“So what is it Mr. President? Should friends speak their minds about controversial issues when visiting another country, or should they keep their views to themselves? Or is your answer that friends should speak their minds only when they agree with other friends, but not when they disagree? Such a view would skew the market place of ideas beyond recognition.

“The president owes the American people, and Benjamin Netanyahu, an explanation for his apparent hypocrisy and inconsistency.”