Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ex-Netanyahu adviser insults US’s Israel envoy with ethnic slight

John Reed,

image (not from article)  from

A former adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s rightwing prime minister, used an ethnic epithet to insult the US ambassador to Israel on Tuesday, highlighting the fractious relationship between the Israeli political establishment and the US administration.

Aviv Bushinsky called Dan Shapiro “yehudon”, a Hebrew word meaning “little Jew” or “Jew boy”, on a TV talk show, in response to the US envoy’s critical remarks earlier in the week about Israel’s application of law in the occupied West Bank. 

“To put it bluntly, it was a statement typical of a Jew boy,” Mr Bushinsky said after viewing Mr Shapiro’s remarks on a morning panel show on Israel’s Channel 2.

Mr Shapiro, a former adviser to President Barack Obama who was posted to Israel in 2011, is Jewish-American. To some listeners, Mr Bushinsky’s slur in the context he used it had similar connotations to “Uncle Tom” or “Oreo”, offensive terms used for African-Americans seen as too subservient to whites.

Mr Bushinsky was responding to remarks made by Mr Shapiro on Sunday at a Tel Aviv conference in which he criticised Israeli vigilantism against Palestinians in the West Bank. Mr Shapiro said: “At times, it seems Israel has two standards of adherence to the rule of law in the West Bank – one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.”

Earlier in the week, the Israeli prime minister also attacked Mr Shapiro’s remarks, calling them “unacceptable and wrong” before meeting privately with the US envoy on Tuesday.

In his speech, the US ambassador also spoke about the US and Israel’s shared values and mutual interests, and “great respect for the Israeli people and the democratic process” in Israel.

The US embassy in Tel Aviv did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday’s talk show. Mark Regev, Mr Netanyahu’s spokesman, distanced himself from Mr Bushinsky’s remarks, calling them “totally inappropriate and unequivocally incorrect”.

The friction comes at a time when Israel is hitting back angrily at criticism from its closest allies over its perceived failure to offer new ideas for a collapsed peace process and continued support for illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Margot Wallstrom, foreign minister of Sweden – which last year recognised Palestine as an independent state – infuriated Mr Netanyahu’s government and many Israelis earlier this month when she called for an inquiry into Israeli “extrajudicial killings”.

The Swedish official was referring to the deaths by shooting of dozens of Palestinians by Israelis fending off suspected knifings or other attacks during a four-month-old wave of violence. Palestinian officials applauded her remarks.

Tzipi Hotovely, the far-right, pro-settlement deputy foreign minister, responded by saying that Swedish officials were no longer welcome in Israel, and that Ms Wallstrom’s remarks were “backing to terror and giving a tailwind to Islamic State to act throughout Europe”.

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, accused Ms Wallstrom of anti-semitism, and Mr Netanyahu said her remarks were “outrageous, immoral and unjust”.

Moderate Israelis and foreign friends of Israel have been alarmed by the amount of vitriol being directed at the US, their country’s closest ally, which supplies $3.5bn of military aid per year – an amount expected to rise after the conclusion of ongoing talks with Washington on a memorandum of understanding for a new five-year assistance package.

In June, Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, a TV personality and wife of then-interior minister Silvan Shalom, was forced to apologise after tweeting a joke about “Obama Coffee”, which she called “black and weak”. Mr Shalom resigned in December after several women made sexual harassment allegations against him.

In November, another scandal erupted over comments made on social media by Ran Baratz, Mr Netanyahu’s newly-appointed head of media and public diplomacy, who was found to have described a speech by Mr Obama as an example of “modern anti-semitism” and said that John Kerry, secretary of state, was someone “whose mental age doesn’t exceed 12”.

Mr Baratz has yet to take up his post.

No comments: