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October 31, 2014 10:13 am

Haaretz’s All-Time Low

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Haaretz editions in Hebrew and English. Photo: Hmbr via Wikimedia Commons.

One tongue-in-cheek question that began circulating after Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic quoted an anonymous American official bad-mouthing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week is: “How do you say ‘chickenshit’ in Hebrew?”

The Israeli media did not bother too much with the translation, mostly using the English phrase and providing a few parenthetical synonyms for “cowardice.” They did, however, devote endless discussion to the significance of such an expression of disdain toward Netanyahu coming from the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu responded by setting the record straight about his illustrious military history, and pro-Israel commentators at home and abroad juxtaposed this with President Barack Obama’s past as a dope-smoking radical.

What neither Netanyahu nor his defenders emphasized, though, was the paradoxical nature of the slur. On the one hand, the Israeli leader is ostensibly a wimp because he will not take risks for peace. On the other, he is hesitant to go to war, and missed the opportunity to bomb Iran.

Oh, and he cares about keeping his job — unlike, say, every politician who ever lived.

In other words, nothing Netanyahu does or does not do is acceptable to the Capitol Hill crew.

Ironically, this latest display of hostility from Washington gave a boost to Netanyahu’s popularity. Even his opponents had to admit that calling the prime minister “chickenshit” was distasteful.

Where the political divide lies is over the issue of whom to blame for the ever-souring relations between the U.S. and Israel. The left side of the spectrum is faulting Netanyahu for “provocations,” such as housing construction. The Right is reiterating its mantra that Netanyahu should ignore the admonitions of an anti-Israel White House and State Department, and safeguard the interests of his own people.

But “fowl-gate” was upstaged on Wednesday evening, when Moatez Hijazi shot Rabbi Yehuda Glick three times at point-blank range.

The assassination attempt occurred outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem. Hijazi, a resident of the capital’s Abu Tor neighborhood (and an Islamic Jihad member, who was released from a 12-year stint in an Israeli prison) was an employee of “Terasa,” a restaurant that leases space inside the Begin Center.

Glick, who was critically wounded in the attack, had just finished delivering a lecture at a conference on the Temple Mount at the Begin Center, when he was gunned down by Hijazi.

When the anti-terror squad of the Israel Police found Hijazi hiding at his home, he opened fire. Thankfully, they killed him on the spot. Otherwise, he would have served jail time and been released as part of a “peace process” prisoner exchange at some point, and would have struck again. You know, after being able to support his family financially by working for Jewish establishments that hire Arabs without discrimination — and indiscriminately, as indicated by this latest travesty.

Israeli reportage of the terrorist attack, which spurred Hijazi’s neighbors to go on a violent rampage, is worthy of note. All media outlets headlined the Jewish victim as “right-wing activist Yehuda Glick,” while only mentioning the Arab perpetrator’s Islamic Jihad credentials in the second sentence. Nor did they call him a terrorist.

They did make sure to cover Netanyahu’s decision to close the Temple Mount to both Jews and Arabs until things settle down, however. (Subsequently, this decision was softened, to enable people above a certain age to enter.)

They also reported on the response of the Palestinian Authority. Fatah Central Committee honcho Jibril Rajoub said outright that he does not condemn Hijazi. PA President Mahmoud Abbas likened the semi-closure of the Temple Mount to a “declaration of war.”

One would think from his indignation that Abbas has not been inciting his public to kill Israelis. One might also expect the Israeli press to point that out.

But some members of the media got what they deserved for their knee-jerk leftism and arrogance, after all.

On Thursday, Haaretz published a political cartoon that caused a backlash the likes of which make the “chickenshit” story pale in comparison. The cartoon depicts Netanyahu flying a plane into the World Trade Center. Not only is it vile in and of itself, but the fact that it appeared while Glick remained in critical condition at Shaare Zedek hospital made it all the more repugnant.

To add insult to injury, cartoonist Amos Biderman defended his drawing.

“The message is that Bibi [Netanyahu] is arrogantly and wantonly destroying Israel’s ties with the U.S. and leading us to a disaster on the scale of 9/11,” he said. “It was certainly not my intention to insult or upset anyone. I wasn’t sufficiently aware of the great sensitivity that 9/11 holds for Americans.”

Really. I guess he was equally unaware of the “great sensitivity” that anti-Semitic imagery holds for Jews everywhere. Apparently, he and his Haaretz cohorts are so insulated by their bubble of chattering-class respectability that they do not notice when they have gone too far.

How do you say “shitstorm” in Hebrew?

Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.'” This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

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