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October 7, 2016 3:52 pm

Netanyahu Spokesman Rebuts Atlantic Columnist’s Criticism: Jeffrey Goldberg, Not the Prime Minister, Is the Real Pessimist

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David Keyes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesperson. Photo: Facebook.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a “staunch optimist” who remains “fully committed” to seeking peace with the Palestinians, a spokesman for the premier wrote this week in a strong rebuttal of an Atlantic op-ed that harshly criticized the leader of the Jewish state.

On Thursday, Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg published a message he had received from David Keyes — Netanyahu’s foreign media spokesman — in response to an article Goldberg wrote last week following the funeral of the late Shimon Peres that was titled, “The Unbearable Smallness of Benjamin Netanyahu.” Keyes’ response, titled “The Unbearable Misunderstanding of Goldberg,” said that none of the accusations the veteran American Jewish columnist made against Netanyahu — including “stymieing peace, paralyzing pessimism, alienating Americans, scapegoating Arabs, misplaying Iran and fetishizing fear” were true.

“Implicit in Goldberg’s piece is the assumption that the Israeli people must be stupid or naive,” Keyes wrote. “Why else would they keep voting for someone Goldberg considers such a short-sighted fear-monger? Prime Minister Netanyahu has been elected to four terms because Israelis trust him to navigate the stormy seas that surround Israel and to keep them safe and prosperous.”

Regarding the peace process with the Palestinians, Keyes noted that Netanyahu has “consistently offered and genuinely hopes to begin peace talks with the Palestinians immediately and without preconditions.” The prime minister, Keyes said, still envisions a peace agreement “based on two states for two peoples where a demilitarized Palestinian state finally recognizes the Jewish State of Israel.”

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Keyes also took issue with Goldberg’s assertion that Netanyahu mishandled the Iran nuclear issue. “History will judge Netanyahu differently — boldly taking Israel’s case to the American people and Congress to highlight the existential threat of the world’s worst state sponsor of terror seeking atomic bombs,” Keyes wrote. “Netanyahu’s determination over the years to prevent a nuclear armed Iran was a leading force that helped galvanize sanctions against Iran in the first place. Without Israel’s steadfastness, Iran would have had nuclear weapons long ago.”

Concluding his response, Keyes wrote, “Israel’s future has never been brighter. The real pessimist here is not Prime Minister Netanyahu — it’s Jeffrey Goldberg.”

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