Posted by: ZOA Staff
November 3, 2014
News Press Release

Obama Spokesman Dodges & Weaves On Ugly Netanyahu Name-Calling

If Abbas, Erdogan or Rouhani Insulted, U.S. Would Act Differently

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed deep concern over the refusal of the White House to condemn, apologize for and fire the Obama Administration official who was quoted by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg as describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickens..t.” The ZOA believes that, if the Obama Administration genuinely disagreed with these comments, it would apologize for them, as well as identify and fire the official concerned –– as it undoubtedly would if a similar expletive had been uttered against Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, or Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Queried as to whether the Obama Administration regarded it as acceptable for an Administration official to describe the Israeli Prime Minister as a “chickens..t,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest replied that, “comments like that do not reflect the Administration’s view,” that they are “counterproductive,” that he’d be “surprised” if the President knew who made them and that “anonymous comments like that on a range of issues are not particularly unique.” Queried further whether the White House would seek out and punish the official responsible, Mr. Earnest dodged the question, merely observing that anonymous comments are “not particularly unique” and reiterating that this view that they were not those of the Administration. When asked a second time if the Administration would seek to identify the official, Mr. Earnest said, “I don’t know of any effort like that that’s underway right now.” (‘Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 10/29/2014’).

“This is weak, grudging, utterly inadequate and insulting to the Israeli Prime Minister, Israel and the Jewish people.”

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The ZOA is deeply concerned and appalled that the White House press secretary dodged and weaved repeatedly when asked the simple question –– would the Obama Administration apologize for, identify and punish the Administration official who called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a ‘chickens..t.’

“An Administration that genuinely disagreed with and was appalled by one of its officials using this language about the prime minister of a close and important ally of the United States would have had no difficulty apologizing for the words of its official and immediately confirming that the official would be identified and dismissed.

“Instead, President Obama’s spokesman merely repeated the weak declaration that the President and the Administration does not share the official’s view. The Obama Administration seems to be saying that the anonymous official’s view is an acceptable one with which the Administration merely happens to disagree.

“This is weak, grudging, utterly inadequate and insulting to the Israeli Prime Minister, Israel and the Jewish people.

“One need scarcely wonder what the attitude of the Obama Administration would be if one of its officials had used identical language to describe, let us say, Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas, or Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“The White House would not simply be saying it doesn’t agree with the words of such an official. It would condemn his words, apologize to the offended party on behalf of the United States and would most assuredly make it clear that it would find and dismiss the official concerned.

“President Obama’s failure to do these things clearly indicates he’s comfortable with these remarks.

“In view of the fact that President Obama himself is on record in 2011 disparaging Mr. Netanyahu in a conversation with then-French President Nicholas Sarkozy, it is difficult to believe that President Obama does not share, or is not at least sympathetic to, the view of the unnamed official he refuses to punish, let alone fire.

“This issue is therefore unresolved and the ADL’s Abe Foxman is quite mistaken to argue that the White House statements should ‘bring closure to this issue.’ 

“Rather, what is needed is for the Obama Administration to apologize for the language used and to name and dismiss the official in question. Only then will it be clear that the Obama Administration is truly appalled by such a disgraceful and ugly comment about the leader of America’s most trustworthy ally.”