(JNS.org) A senior Obama administration official told The Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit.”
“The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. ‘The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,’ this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname,” Goldberg wrote Tuesday.
The insult follows the latest U.S. government criticism of planned Israeli construction—1,060 newly announced housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo and Har Homa. “Israel’s leaders have said they would support a pathway to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace, and that is certainly a message that we are conveying directly,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
Reacting to the “chickenshit” remark, Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said, “Israel is stronger than any disparager. The prime minister is not some private individual. He is the leader of the Jewish state and the Jewish world as a whole. Vulgar remarks directed against an Israeli prime minister are hurtful to the millions of citizens of Israel and Jews worldwide.”
The “chickenshit” quote shows that “the current [U.S.] administration intends to throw Israel under the bus,” added Bennett.
In an address to the Knesset on Wednesday, Netanyahu said, “I’m attacked just because I defend the State of Israel. If I did not defend the State of Israel, if I did not determinedly protect our national and security interests, they would not attack me. Despite all the attacks I'm subjected to, I will continue to defend our country and the citizens of Israel.”
According to Goldberg, “chickenshit” was just the latest in a “running list” of harsh descriptors U.S. officials have used to characterize Netanyahu.
“Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery,’” Goldberg wrote.
Elaborating on the word choice of “chickenshit,” the Obama administration official told Goldberg, “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. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”
Israeli Communications Minister Gilad Erdan said Wednesday, “It is ridiculous and even sad that officials in the Obama administration defame and curse the prime minister with expressions that they never use for mass murderers like [Syrian President Bashar] Assad. Such statements play into the hands of radical Islam, which draws strength from them.”