It is fair to say that an unnamed administration official calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “aspergery” and a “chickens***,” among other unflattering traits, has ignited a genuine diplomatic row.
For the sake of public appearances, the White House is brushing the comments aside.
“What I can tell you is that in the clearest terms possible, in the most open forum possible, that those comments as they were reported do not accurately reflect at all this administration’s view about the nation of Israel, the strength of the relationship between our two countries, or the leadership of that important ally,” said White House Press Sec. Josh Earnest on Wednesday.
For his part, Netanyahu is embracing the opportunity to eschew diplomacy. “I’m being attacked simply because I defend the State of Israel,” the Israeli prime minister insisted.
As AllahPundit noted, Israel’s economic minister, Naftali Bennett, took to Facebook where he excoriated the White House. “If what appears in the press is true, then it seems that the current US administration is throwing Israel under the bus,” Bennett wrote. “I call on the US administration to immediately reject these gross comments.”
While the White House may have rejected these impolitic comments, they are not treating them as a particularly egregious breach of diplomatic protocol. According to a report in The Hill, the administration does not even plan to mount an investigation to determine who made the inflammatory statements in the first place.
The Obama administration is not conducting an investigation to identify the senior official who called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickens***,” despite criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.
“There are anonymous sources in all of your stories every single day. If we spent all of our time focused on that effort, we wouldn’t be working on diplomacy,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he did not know who the leaker was, and that he doubted President Obama was aware of their identity. He suggested the administration was unlikely to hunt for the source of the quote.
This is an uncharacteristic display of high-mindedness from this White House. This administration is not known for letting insults slide or allowing water to pass gracefully under the bridge, particularly when Israel is the transgressor.
When Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon insulted Secretary of State John Kerry, calling him “messianic” and “obsessive,” the White House publicly called his comments offensive and demanded they be retracted.
“To question Secretary Kerry’s motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally,” former White House Press Sec. Jay Carney said.
“The remarks of the Defense Minister [Ya’alon], if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs, and will continue to do,” State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki concurred. “To question [Sec. Kerry’s] motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally.”
Before long, Ya’alon issued a statement insisting that he did not intend to offend the American secretary of state and apologized for his remarks.
It seems that this relationship is a one-way street.
This post has been updated since its original publication.