Top Jewish Leader Hier Urges Obama to ‘Name, Apologize for and Repudiate’ Anonymous Official Who Called Israeli PM Netanyahu ‘Chickenshit’
Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has called on President Barack Obama to “name, apologize for, and repudiate” the anonymous official who was quoted, in an Atlantic Magazine article by Jeffrey Goldberg, describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit.”
In a telephone call with The Algemeiner from his Los Angeles office, an incensed Rabbi Hier declared: “It is rather ironic that a senior American official is prepared to curse his friends, yet when it comes to the mortal enemies of the United States – as the Iranians discovered during the recent nuclear negotiation – praise is heaped on them.”
Goldberg’s piece extensively quoted an anonymous “senior Obama administration official” who showered Netanyahu with invective, saying, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit.” Goldberg then observed: “Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.’ (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)”
The word “Aspergery” is a derogatory term for individuals with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism that affects the part of the brain that processes emotions.
The same official is quoted as saying: “The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars. The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat.”
Another senior official, Goldberg wrote, “agreed that Netanyahu is a ‘chickenshit’ on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a ‘coward’ on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat.”
Commenting on the remarks of this second official, Hier asserted: “He said Netanyahu is a coward for not taking pre-emptive action against Iran, but I suppose this anonymous official who is hiding behind his desk is very brave.”
Asked whether he thought Obama should fire the officials who made these comments, Hier said “that’s up to the president.” However, he added, “a senior American official who doesn’t name himself and then hurls curse words at one of our strongest allies should be repudiated by the president. President Obama needs to make it clear that these officials don’t speak for him. Most of all, an apology is in order: That is not the way a senior American official should speak to the Prime Minister of Israel, that is not the way to conduct foreign policy.”
Hier noted that similar sentiments were not forthcoming from the administration about Qatar, a putative American ally that nevertheless backs Hamas and has allegedly been a conduit for funding the Islamic State terrorist organization. “There are no curse words on or off the record about the emir of Qatar for supporting Hamas and supporting Islamic State,” Hier noted. “The emir of Qatar is being rewarded for supporting Hamas and Islamic State. He is certainly not being treated in the way that Netanyahu is now.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Hier’s colleague, told The Algemeiner that this latest blow to American-Israeli bilateral relations sent a worrying signal to the Israeli public that the administration cares little about their concerns. Referring to the upsurge of Palestinian violence in Jerusalem, and the recent incitement by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against Jews seeking to pray on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, Cooper said, “ordinary Israelis don’t understand the absence of their best friend and ally, the United States, on these core issues.”
Israeli officials have also begun reacting to the insults leveled at Netanyahu by Obama’s officials. On his Facebook page, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett stated:
“Israel is stronger than all of its defamers.
“The Prime Minister of Israel is not a private person. He is the leader of the Jewish State and the entire Jewish people. Cursing the prime minister and calling him names is an insult not just to him but to the millions of Israeli citizens and Jews across the globe.
“The leader of Syria who slaughtered 150,000 people was not awarded the name ‘chickenshit.’ Neither was the leader of Saudi Arabia who stones women and homosexuals or the leader of Iran who murders freedom protestors.
“If what appears in the press is true, then it seems that the current US administration is throwing Israel under the bus.
“Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East and has been fighting 66 years to survive. Israel is at the forefront of the free world’s fight against the Islamic terror of ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran. Instead of attacking Israel and putting it at risk, the world should be strengthening and supporting it.
“I call on the US administration to immediately reject these gross comments.”