Wednesday, October 20th | 14 Heshvan 5782

February 20, 2018 8:34 am

New York Times Blames Netanyahu for Snubbing Obama

avatar by Ira Stoll


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama during a March 2013 meeting in Jerusalem. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A New York Timesnews analysis” that appears under the byline of the newspaper’s Jerusalem bureau chief and one of its Israel-based reporters inaccurately rewrites the history of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s relations with former US President Barack Obama.

Mr. Netanyahu, the Times reports, “placed a large bet on the Republican Party’s coming to power in the United States, embracing Mitt Romney then Donald Trump, and pointedly snubbing President Barack Obama. The bet paid off eventually but it also accelerated the trend of support for Israel breaking down along American partisan lines — a dangerous shift for American Jews and Israel alike.”

The Times-promoted narrative of Netanyahu “snubbing” Obama ignores the fact that Obama wasn’t himself a passive figure in the relationship, and that, arguably, he started the snubbing himself.

The “news analysis” that appeared in 2018 carries the bylines of David Halbfinger and Isabel Kershner. Back in 2013, Jodi Rudoren and Kershner reported in the Times:

the well-documented tensions between Mr. Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tell only part of the story: even Israelis who are harsh critics of their own leader felt snubbed when the American president skipped their homeland during his 2009 trip to the Middle East.

Many have never gotten over the speech he made then in Cairo, where he twice referred to “Palestine” in the present rather than future tense, and insinuated that Israel was rooted in the tragedy of the Holocaust rather than ancient history.

Others are still smarting from what they saw as Mr. Obama’s misguided demand to freeze construction in the West Bank territories Israel seized in 1967 — which yielded no results — and what they believed was the president’s too-swift abandonment of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a trusted ally.

The Times has had an unfortunate tendency since that accurate 2013 dispatch of rewriting the history of the Obama-Netanyahu relationship falsely to make it sound as if the problems were all Netanyahu’s fault. This latest example is only the most recent in a series. I wrote about earlier similar cases back in March of 2017 and in February of 2017.

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



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