Rep. Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, says that his much-discussed meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem late last month did, in fact, devolve into an sharp confrontation between Netanyahu and the American ambassador to Israel, the former National Security Council official (and former Obama campaign Jewish liaison), Dan Shapiro.
Rogers told a Michigan radio interviewer earlier this week that he had not previously witnessed such a high-level confrontation, and he described Israeli leaders as being at "wits' end" over what they see as President Obama's unwillingness to provide them with his "red lines" in the effort to stop Iran's nuclear program. He also said that neither the Israelis nor the Iranians believe that Obama would use force to stop the nuclear program. (UPDATE: Rogers said as well he believes the Israelis will "probably" bomb Iran if they don't get clearer red lines from the U.S.)
Rogers description of the meeting directly contradicts repeated Administration assertions that there is "no daylight" on the Iran issue with the Israeli government. Shortly after the meeting took place, Israeli press reports appeared suggesting that Netanyahu and Shapiro had engaged in an argument, but Shapiro soon dismissed those reports, calling them "silly" and saying, "The published account of that meeting did not reflect what actually occurred in the meeting. The conversations were entirely friendly and professional."
Rogers, speaking to WJR radio host Frank Beckmann, painted a very different picture. He said the meeting, originally scheduled to be a discussion of intelligence and technical issues between himself and the prime minister, spun out of control when Netanyahu began lambasting Shapiro over the Administration's Iran policy. When Beckmann asked Rogers to describe the tenor of the meeting, he said: "Very tense. Some very sharp... exchanges and it was very, very clear the Israelis had lost their patience with the (Obama) Administration." He went on, "There was no doubt. You could not walk out of that meeting and think that they had not lost their patience with this Administration."
Rogers said Israeli frustration grows from what they see -- and he sees -- as a refusal by the Obama Administration to outline an endgame: "(I)t was very clear the overarching policy has been frustrating mainly because I think it's not very clear."
And Rogers had harsh words for the Administration, which he says has made it very clear to the Israelis what they shouldn't do, but hasn't delivered a message to the Iranians with the same clarity: "There's a lot of pieces in play on this. But I think again, their frustration is that the Administration hasn't made it very clea -- they've made it very clear to Israel in a public way that they shouldn't do it, but haven't made it very clear to Iran in a public way that there will be tougher action, which could include -- and I argue peace through strength, so you just need to let them understand that that's an option so we can deter them from their program. And right now the Israelis don't' believe that the Administration is serious when they say that all options are on the table, and more importantly neither do the Iranians. That's why the program is progressing."