I was reluctant to discuss this. As most people know, I have taken the unpopular (with the liberal left) position of support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. I am not one who thinks that everything he does is self serving. At least not any more than most politicians.
I support him because I agree with most of his policies; because he articulates Israel’s position well; because he has won over a majority of congress to his views; because he has the support of the tens of millions of Evangelical Christians; and most importantly because the Israeli people gave him (actually his party – the Likud) the greatest number of seats in the Kenesset in the last election.
As a result of this, he is the longest serving Prime Minister in the history of Israel. He must be doing something right in the eyes of his citizens since he was given this leadership role so many times. I would also not diminish his role in how most of the American people feel about Israel. If I recall correctly a recent poll found support for Israel among Americans is at an all time high. That would not be possible if Israel’s prime minister was as bad as his detractors say he is.
Those who do think he is so bad, see him through a colored lens. And spin his every act – his every word into something negative. You would think that he is the devil incarnate the way some of his detractors speak of him. Especially by his political opponents in Israel and by the left leaning Jewish media both in Israel and America. And there are a lot of those.
So I am indeed reluctant to criticize him. He doesn’t need a supporter to pile on. But I am not blind to his mistakes. One of which is choice of Ran Baratz - who is a complete idiot - as his diplomacy chief. It is not often that one can characterize a PhD in philosophy as a complete idiot. But in the case of Baratz the ‘shoe fits’. Diplomacy is the last thing this fellow should be involved in. Why? How’s this for a reason. He has publicly called the President of the United States, Barack Obama, an antisemite and characterized Secretary of State John Kerry as having the intellect of a teenager.
Baratz’s stupidity does not stop there. According to an article in the New York Times he characterized Israeli President Rueven Rivlin in a breathtakingingly disparaging way:
What upset many Israelis most was the way Mr. Baratz lashed out at President Rivlin, calling him “a marginal figure” unworthy of assassination, and suggesting that he “could be sent in a paraglider” into Syria, where the Islamic State would retreat if only Israel would take him back.
This is the man that the Prime Minister thinks should handle Israel’s public relations?! To say that this was a terrible choice is a gross understatement. Netanyahu should immediately withdraw Baratz’s name for that position.
I think I understand why Netanyahu chose him. His probably felt that his political views are similar to his own. But I don’t think they are. I believe that Baratz is probably so right wing, that Netanyahu would be considered a liberal next to him.
After being made aware of Baratz’s comments, the Prime Minister said that they are “totally unacceptable and in no way reflect my positions or the policies of the government of Israel.”
For his part, Baratz has apologized for making those comments:
Mr. Baratz, in a Facebook post Thursday night, apologized for “the hurtful remarks” and for not informing the prime minister of them. He said the posts “were written frivolously and sometimes humorously, in a tone suited to the social networks and a private individual.” He added, “It is very clear to me that in an official post one has to behave and express oneself differently.”
In an email to The New York Times, Mr. Baratz said that “what I most regret is using the word anti-Semitism in relation to President Obama.
“Even in the context of a heated debate in which there were strong passions over the nuclear deal with Iran, such language should have never been used to describe President Obama,” he wrote. “It’s not true and I deeply regret having done so.”
The United States seems to have accepted the apology:
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, seemed to try to tamp down the Baratz tempest on Thursday, saying that it was “readily apparent that the apology was warranted…
I’m glad to see that the Prime Minister is reconsidering his nominee for a top post in his government. But for me, it is a no brainer. There is nothing to consider. The cat is out of the bag. Ran Baratz is unfit to serve in any position of power, let alone one that is designed to provide a positive diplomatic face. The apology was indeed warranted and I’m glad he gave it. But by his original comments he has in my view abdicated any right to future government positions. That is what he thinks despite later denials. And knowing what he really thinks looms way too large for him to be in any government position now or in the future.
So if I were in a position to advise the Prime Minister here, I would say stop thinking about it and just kick this guy so far out of your government that he will never again surface politically.