In a rare moment of rising verbal tensions between Israel and US, American daily newspaper, The New York Times, criticized Israel’s new government, which sparked Benjamin Netanyahu’s harsh language in response.
After nearly two years of being out of the power circle in Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu could win the November election and once again become Prime Minister. And at the time when he is doing anything he can to form a coalition government to prevent another election, an American newspaper is questioning the very democratic nature of Israel’s election.
It was on this Sunday that in an editorial titled “The ideal of democracy in a Jewish State is in jeopardy”, the New York Times strongly criticized Netanyahu’s upcoming government and the potential candidates for the sensitive positions in it.
According to the paper, the new cabinet that Benjamin Netanyahu as the Likud leader will soon swear in appears could be a danger to Israel’s efforts to reconcile its Jewish character with liberal democratic values.
“While Mr. Netanyahu clearly has the support of the Israeli electorate, his coalition’s victory was narrow and cannot be seen as a broad mandate to make concessions to ultrareligious and ultranationalist parties that are putting the ideal of a democratic Jewish state in jeopardy,” the editorial said. It also noted that “this board has been a strong supporter of Israel and a two-state solution for many years, and we remain committed to that support. Antisemitism is on the rise around the globe, and at least some of the criticism of Israel is the result of such hatred.”
The American newspaper particularly lashed out at the far-right politicians such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, who is expected to be a minister of national security, warning that his record of spreading violence and racism “risk provoking a new round of Arab-Israeli violence”.
In addition, the famous newspaper also rebuked Religious Zionist Party leader Bezalel Smotrich as a man who is a huge supporter of the annexation of West Bank territories, and Noam party leader Avi Maoz, describing him as “proud homophobic.”
Netanyahu’s tit-for-tat reaction to the NYT
The surprising tone of the article that the New York Times published this Sunday was so unbearable for Netanyahu that he immediately reacted by a series of harsh tweets. Netanyahu rebuked NYT for its coverage of the Holocaust and accused the newspaper of wanting to generate instability in a government that has not yet begun its job.
“After burying the Holocaust for years on its back pages and demonizing Israel for decades on its front pages, the New York Times now shamefully calls for undermining Israel’s elected incoming government,” Netanyahu tweeted.
In yet another tweet, he accused the New York Times of constantly trying to delegitimize “the one true democracy in the Middle East and America’s best ally in the region”.
He also wrote, “I will continue to ignore its ill-founded advice and instead focus on building a stronger and more prosperous country, strengthening ties with America, expanding peace with our neighbors, and securing the future of the one and only Jewish state”.
To form his coalition government, Netanyahu has no choice but to ally with some of the most extreme politicians in Israel such as the ones mentioned above, including Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich, and Avi Maoz. This has made many political experts in and out of the United States to warn that Netanyahu’s incoming government will be one of the most radical in the history of Israel.