(JNS.org) The White House on Wednesday attempted to distance itself from comments by an anonymous senior U.S. official who called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit.”
“Certainly that’s not the administration’s view, and we think such comments are inappropriate and counter-productive,” Alistair Baskey, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu and the president have forged an effective partnership, and consult closely and frequently, including earlier this month when the president hosted the prime minister in the Oval Office,” Baskey added.
The Obama administration official’s use of the “chickenshit” slur, reported Tuesday by The Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg, has caused outrage in Israel while adding tension to an already strained relationship between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.
While Baskey condemned the remarks, he acknowledged that “obviously” the American and Israeli governments “do not agree on every issue.”
“For instance, we have repeatedly made clear the United States’ decades-long view that settlement activity is ‘illegitimate’ and complicates efforts to achieve a two-state solution,” he said, echoing this week’s Obama administration criticism of Israel’s newly announced plan to build about 1,000 new homes in Jerusalem neighborhoods located beyond the pre-1967 lines.
The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC), meanwhile, on Wednesday expressed “disappointment at the profane and inappropriate language” attributed to the Obama administration official in The Atlantic.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu has the right and responsibility as the freely elected leader of a sovereign nation to conduct Israel’s foreign and domestic policies as he determines are in the best interests of his country and its people. … The personal frustration that is reflected in the anonymous source’s ad hominem attack should be channeled to constructive engagement rather than rhetorical flourishes,” NJDC said in a statement.