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An imaginary, misleading ‘debate’ between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu


(Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama at the White House.ISRAELI GPO/GETTY IMAGES)

DEBATE MODERATOR: “Welcome to the first debate between Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. President, we’ll start with you.”

OBAMA: “I’ve made it clear that the United States respects the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic of Iran and is not interfering with Iran’s affairs.”

MODERATOR: “Mr. President, thank you. Mr. Prime Minister, your response.”

NETANYAHU: “The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped.”

MODERATOR: “Mr President, your rebuttal.”

OBAMA: “Obviously there are some differences between us.”

ANNOUNCER: “Friends, Americans and Israel cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama. This call was paid for by the Emergency Committee for Israel because your vote will make the difference in this election.”

— Text of a “robocall” message sponsored by the Emergency Committee for Israel

The Fact Checker was surprised to hear this “debate,” using the actual voices of President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, when he answered his home phone earlier this week. We did a little digging, and this has got to be one of the most ridiculous attacks in an increasingly bitter campaign. Let’s see how the Emergency Committee for Israel cut and snipped this call together.

The Facts

Obama’s first statement sounds rather weak and feckless during the robocall, but it changes dramatically when viewed in its proper context — a presidential news conference held on June 23, 2009, to condemn the attacks by the Iranian government on pro-democracy demonstrators. Obama’s point is that the pro-democracy activists were not being directed by the United States, as the Iranian government had claimed. The sentence used in the call is highlighted in bold.

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