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September 22, 2016 3:13 pm

The New York Times Finds a New Adjective to Hurl at Netanyahu

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Facebook.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Facebook.

The New York Times has found a new adjective to hurl at the prime minister of Israel: “brash.”

A Times dispatch by Peter Baker, the new Jerusalem bureau chief, begins,For Benjamin Netanyahu, the brash prime minister of Israel, there are few audiences more skeptical than the world leaders he will face at the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday.”

The Zionist Organization of America pointed out sarcastically on Twitter, “‘Brash’??? Thanks for inserting your opinion. Thanks for the journalism.”

The New York Timess unfortunate habit of slapping labels on Benjamin Netanyahu was the topic of a post here earlier commenting on the absurdity of the Times having described Mr. Netanyahu both asloquacious” and as “usually taciturn,” two diametrically opposed terms.

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The paper has apparently given up — at least for now — on deciding whether Mr. Netanyahu talks too much or too little. Instead it’s taking issue with his attitude.

“Brash,” according to my authoritative Webster’s Second Unabridged, means: “brittle or fragile, as some wood.” Other meanings are: “rash; too hasty” and “insolent; impudent.”

Given that Mr. Netanyahu has endured the death of his brother and more than 10 years as prime minister of Israel, describing him as “brittle” or “fragile” seems inaccurate. Given that he has not retaken Gaza, the Sinai or the security zone in Lebanon, and did not launch a preemptive strike against the Iranian nuclear program, describing him as “rash” or “hasty” doesn’t really seem accurate, either; if anything, Mr. Netanyahu is restrained and deliberate, the opposite of rash.

That brings us to the third of the possible Webster’s meanings — the idea that Mr. Netanyahu is somehow shameless, or rude. What the Times is getting at here is that, in its view, Mr. Netanyahu is a Jew who doesn’t know his proper place; a Jew who, unlike the elderly, poor European Holocaust survivors upon which the paper lavishes loving and lengthy attention, or the “warm and decorous French Jew” who tickled the fancy of the Times’ T magazine, Mr. Netanyahu is a Jew with power who will speak out publicly and act for Jewish interests.

If the Times foreign desk or its new Jerusalem bureau man finds Mr. Netanyahu “brash,” perhaps we Jews could come up with a few adjectives of our own to sling at the New York Times. “Biased” would be one way to start.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. 

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