According to reports, Prime Minister Netanyahu has discovered that Israel’s biggest enemies are Haaretz and the New York Times, not Iran, Hezbollah, or Hamas. The Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), among others, reported that the Jerusalem Post Editor Steve Linde was told this by Netanyahu in Tel Aviv at a Women’s International Zionist Conference he was addressing this week in Tel Aviv. While the Prime Minister’s Office has denied the remark, there seems to be some credence to the report.
This reported remark raises some important issues. A democracy suffers the extraordinary privilege of a free and open press. President Nixon disliked CBS’s Dan Rather personally and LBJ threw tantrums at press coverage of the Viet-Nam War. Netanyahu may not like the papers’ coverage of his Government, but declaring them enemies more dangerous than terrorists and existential threats is a bit much. Even in the age of political hyperbole, this was a bit over the top.
Bibi has no reason to expect all papers to treat him like Fox News or the Jerusalem Post. He needs to accept the reality that his Government is not getting its story out effectively. There exist many social, political, global, and religious problems which good journalists are not permitting him to avoid addressing. He and his Government need to change how they make their case and how they project Government policies; not attacking the messengers.
Israel may indeed have begun to feel a bit too much heat. They are getting questioned and attacked from all sides; but maybe there is validity to at least some of the attacks and the Government needs to learn how to respond. Netanyahu’s reported reaction was like that of a petulant child and not like a Prime Minister capable of rising above the flames. Even if he did not say it, Jews in Israel and the U.S. have been saying similar things for years; as they continue to turn the pages or log-in to the papers.