Jon Voight: 'Obama does not love Israel.' What prompted his comment?

Actor Jon Voight released a video claiming "President Obama does not love Israel." But Jon Voight's pitch sounds more like a campaign speech for Israeli voters than American voters. 

(Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Jon Voight at the 72nd annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on , Jan. 11, 2015, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

It's been a dicey month for President Obama on American-Israeli political relations.

First, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly chastised Mr. Obama's negotiations with Iran over a nuclear deal.

Then, Netanyahu addressed the US Congress, again criticizing the President's Iran deal, causing a political uproar that saw some congressional Democrats boycott the speech and Obama decline to meet the Israeli leader. 

And now, this: Actor and Republican Jon Voight has released a video in which he states that "President Obama does not love Israel."

“I love Israel. I want to see Israel survive and not be overtaken by the madmen of this world,” Mr. Voight said in a video released exclusively to the Just Jared celebrity news website. “President Obama does not love Israel. His whole agenda is to control Israel. And this way he can be friends with all of Israel’s enemies. He doesn’t want [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to win this upcoming election.”

In fact, Voight's "anti-Obama message" (which is an echo of Rudolph Giuliani's criticism of Obama last month) is probably more about Netanyahu than Obama.  

Israelis head to the polls Tuesday to choose a prime minister in a historically tight and high-profile election.

A member of the conservative Likud party, Netanyahu is facing stiff opposition from the duo running against him, Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni. The pair formed an unusual center-left political alliance called the Zionist Union expressly to unseat Netanyahu, and they've surprised political observers by mounting a compelling campaign.

Voight said Obama does not want to see Netanyahu win re-election on Tuesday, and that he prefers Mr. Herzog and Ms. Livni. “America has not been the same since [Mr. Obama’s] presidency. I beg all of you to understand the truth," said Voight. "Those like Yitzhak Herzog who believe that dealmaking is the solution to what Israel faces are as wrong as Neville Chamberlain believing he made a peace deal with Hitler."

Voight's video went viral on social media and reaction was immediate on Twitter.

Why Voight's outspoken statement?

According to some reports, Netanyahu, an incumbent for whom the election was supposed to be an easy win, is down in the polls ahead of Tuesday's election.

His controversial decision to address a joint session of Congress, urging the United States not to sign the nuclear deal currently being negotiated with Iran, was considered an attempt to boost his stature at home in Israel.

As Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in the Atlantic, using the Israeli prime minister’s nickname. “Bibi is facing an existential threat to his career, and Boehner is staging for him the ultimate campaign rally, 6,000 miles away from home."

Voight may be Netanyahu's eleventh-hour megaphone for American Jews, some of whom will vote in Israel's election. And it turns out there's precedent for this move.

This isn't the first time Voight, an outspoken conservative, has publicly supported Israel – or publicly criticized Obama. In August, he was one of several celebrities to sign a letter supporting Israel after the controversial Gaza War. And on Veteran's Day last year, the actor penned a scathing open letter published in The Washington Times, criticizing Obama's actions on a wide range of issues and asking Americans to “voice their outrage against his executive privilege.”

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