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Eric Adams, Barack Obama get opposite receptions from Israeli government

Presidential approval ratings: Israel smiles on Beep as Obama, Netanyahu face off

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Borough President Adams is getting along with Israel much better than President Obama these days.

The commander-in-chief’s tumultuous relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hit a new low in recent weeks as Netanyahu heads into an election accusing Obama of being weak in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, and the president refuses to receive the prime minister when he visits Congress on March 3. Adams, on the other hand, received Israel’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Award during a ceremony before Monday night’s Nets game at Barclays Center.

The president of the only geographic entity that The Brooklyn Paper cares about said he was honored to accept the award, and that he may not have become the president of the united community board districts of Kings County were it not for King.

“I stand on the shoulders of giants like Dr. King and the trailblazers of the civil rights movement,” Adams said. “My public service is committed to furthering his legacy, advancing the welfare of every member of our human race.”

The Israeli state issues the award to individuals who it says embody King’s ideals in promoting diversity and tolerance, qualities the Beep represents, an Israeli diplomat said.

“Adams has dedicated his work to building bridges between peoples of all walks of life, upholding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Ido Aharoni said.

He did not say whether Obama had been considered for the award, but given that an unnamed Obama aide recently told a reporter for The Atlantic that Netanyahu is “a chicken-s---,” it seems unlikely.

Past recipients of the award include former Mayor David Dinkins, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–Fort Greene), singer and activist Harry Belafonte, and author Toni Morrison.

Adams isn’t the only one feeling the Israeli love as Obama feels the Israeli snub.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited a Christian center in East New York last month, and Mayor DeBlasio met with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Wednesday.

But not all Israeli visits to the borough have been welcomed, either. An exhibition game between the Nets and Maccabi Tel Aviv at the Rust Bowl in October drew Palestinian-rights protesters to the arena, and ended in a fight among attendees that left the head of the Sheepshead Bay Y with a broken nose and an activist facing criminal charges.

Israel, of course, faces international criticism for its own racial policies, which activists including former president Jimmy Carter have likened to South Africa’s program of apartheid. At issue are the disenfranchisement and restriction of movement of Palestinians in the occupied territories, segregated roads, schools, and housing, the barring of Palestinian exiles from returning, and more. Supporters of the policies counter that the measures are necessary to suppress terrorism, including military actions by Hamas, the party elected to control the Gaza Strip. Hamas’s charter calls for the eradication of the state of Israel.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260–8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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