‘King Bibi’ is ready for his close up, and ‘Time’ is willing to oblige


I feel a little slow on the draw. Time beat me, Barak Ravid of Ha’aretz and everybody else to the punch to give Benjamin ‘Bibi’ Netanyahu a massive dose of free publicity and attention that’s size-appropriate for his ego. One of America’s finest news publications decided to crown Bibi King of Israel! Long May He Reign! I mention Mr. Ravid because he almost sounds miffed about not getting to do the laying on of hands himself. Not that he’s alone. According to Ravid, Netanyahu, “rarely has in-depth conversations with Israeli reporters, and makes do with short telephone conversations in which he passes messages on issues that are of priority to him, or speaks in order to minimize damage.” The Prime Minister apparently assumes that Ha’aretz, Yediot Ahronoth, and the others are out to get him and so doesn’t talk to them, other than to give out sound bites to the writers to fill space in their columns. In Israel reporters don’t understand the role that His Majesty has set out for them to play.

So King Bibi barely has time for the scribes there, preferring to bask in the glow of his American ‘journalist’ loyal subjects who line up to pay him homage. Time sent Managing Editor Rick Stengel to work on polishing the laurels of His Majesty for publication in the States. Stengel was given great access to Netanyahu at his private Jerusalem residence, and the Prime Minister disseminated bon mots of Bibi-Think to his new friend. Although a far more sophisticated politician than George W. Bush ever was Netanyahu shares 43’s love of an obedience streak when dealing with the Fourth Estate, and it’s clear the Time editor got the gig in part on his willingness to play gossip columnist.

So, what did Bibi want to gossip about? From the piece we are led to believe that the Prime Minister has risen to the ranks of peerage by brave deeds of political skill. Stengel writes, “Netanyahu is poised to become the longest-serving Israeli Prime Minister since David Ben-Gurion, the founding father of Israel. He has no national rival.” The proof of this claim is Netanyahu’s approval rating, “roughly 50%”, and the 94 seat- “bullet-proof majority” he has constructed by getting the ex-Likudniks from Kadima to go back to being Likudniks again. It’s also clear from the article that Netanyahu, a man who keeps a picture of Winston Churchill on a shelf behind his desk, is now eyeing his role as “a defining figure in Israeli history and a significant player on the world stage.” It’s not enough that His Highness has power and prestige; he must also cement his claim to being a demigod in the pantheon of World Leaders.

This kind of pomposity should surprise no-one; it has always been Netanyahu’s stock in trade. Stengel also dropped the tag word that sums up Bibi’s raison d’être as a political animal: Security. When he first ran for Prime Minister in 1996 they called him ‘Mr. Security’, meaning his focus was going to be more on swords than ploughshares. Nobody messed with Mr. Security then, except those who did, but now that he’s King Mr. Security it’s as if all the stars have aligned and the big moment has arrived for the former commando and son of a historian.

More hot air from the coronation of the Great Man in Time: Netanyahu, “would like to be a hero, but he will not be one at the expense of Israel’s security.” Huh? What does that mean? Does that mean that Netanyahu is willing to set his Brobdingnagian ego aside to arrange a peace deal with Mahmoud Abbas, or drop the sabre he’s been rattling at Iran over its nuclear program? Or does His Majesty see a bully little war against the Islamic Republic as the sort of thing a humble servant of the people would do in time of crisis, and not heroic? Who knows? Kings have always used some caveat like Divine Will to change their mind as they see fit. Why should we expect no less from the new monarch in Jerusalem?

The fact is, Israel could use a real leader right now. They’re gearing up again for the socio-economic summer protests in Tel Aviv, and Gaza is a set piece from John Carpenter’s Escape From New York. The West Bank is a powder keg made worse by the settlers and the Border Police. Iran thumbs its nose at Israel’s irrational threats to bomb. What’s worse is that hasbara, Israel’s traditional tool in reducing bad press, has become increasingly ineffective in dealing with the country’s perpetual PR issues which result from its policies. The Netanyahu government’s intransigence on the Palestinian issue and its war-mongering pillow fight with Tehran have made it such that almost nobody thinks Israel is cool anymore, and its place in opinion polls is down there with the Iranians, Pakistan, and the like.

It seems like a country having a nervous breakdown. Mr. Stengel alludes in his column to David Ben Gurion in comparison with Netanyahu, suggesting the two be equated. But Ben Gurion, the ruthless author of the ethnic cleansing in 1948, was by all accounts a very pragmatic and resourceful evaluator of people and situations. As an example, consider the Mavi Marmara incident. While Ben Gurion would no doubt have approved of a commando raid on the vessel, once the situation turned into a major international incident with Turkey would he have allowed it to fester as King Bibi has? I doubt it. Israel’s first Prime Minister would’ve done what the current one has not, mustering the necessary support in his cabinet and the Knesset to mend relations with an essential regional ally. So is King Bibi cut from the same cloth as the founder? Mr. Stengel may think so, but I don’t. Netanyahu is more like French playwright Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, the fictitious monarch of Poland who revels in greed and self-aggrandizement. King Bibi seems committed to making a splash in the history books no matter the blowback, with friends in high places willing to polish his graven image for American public consumption.
I’m disappointed in Time for enabling this egotist, and Netanyahu should be ashamed of himself for letting them do it. Only a public figure of such arrogance, so obsessed with his own legend and would-be place in history, and so deeply wrong on the direction he is attempting to put his country on a path to would allow himself to be so cheaply venerated. As long as this blowhard is allowed to keep his hand at the tiller, Israel will continue to flounder, crown or no crown.

About Craig Higgins

Craig Higgins is a graduate student and native of New Orleans with an interest in the Israel/Palestine conflict, and how it relates both to Middle Eastern and domestic US politics, particularly with regards to the 'special relationship' between Israel and the United States.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, Media

{ 23 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. gingershot says:

    The more I have to see Bibi’s mug the more I think this is just Israeli Lobby-style promotion for Bibi ahead of the final Lobby push to shove America into Iran

    What would be too shocking for most Americans is if the photo headline was ‘Meet Your New King’ – that’s certainly what the US Congress is paid to think and to genuflect

    The King says we must go to war against the Iranians at the behest of Israel, all opposed?

  2. Blake says:

    No photoshop covers up a dodgy face.

    Meanwhile the prime monster warns of infiltrators ‘flooding’ Israel
    link to jpost.com

    King of the sociopathic lunatic asylum maybe.

  3. Polly says:

    “would like to be a hero, but he will not be one at the expense of Israel’s security.” Huh? What does that mean?

    Could mean lots of things but probably more that if he needs to break a few eggs to make the omelette he will.

  4. Ellen says:

    This is nothing new. It is Time magazine, which is a propaganda rag to promote agendas and popular culture — it’s films, under Time Warner. Am surprised that anyone could call Time Magazine “One of America’s finest news publications.”

    Time and Life (of Time Life, Inc. ) shilled for Sharon back in the day. Even after the atrocious and criminal massacres at Sabra and Shatila under the responsibility of Sharon they back stepped (after Sharon sued for Libel) and promoted Sharon.

    Does anyone remember the photo portrait of Sharon holding his white puppy dogs (so cuddly and cute) Life Magazine published in the early 1980s of him after the the human disasters under his leadership?

    Cannot find it anywhere, but remember it well.

    • RudyM says:

      Agree on Time. There is rarely some decent reporting in it, but the overall package–actually the overall package makes me sick. Time magazine is practically network TV news on glossy paper. I could never be “disappointed in Time.”

    • Ira Glunts says:

      This is Bibi’s second cover on Time. The first was 16 years ago in his first go at PM.
      link to time.com

      Since Time is behind a paywall I was not able to read either cover story. A comparison of the two could prove interesting.

      I read that both issues dealt with the question of whether Bibi could make peace with the Palestinians. The Nixon to China sort of thing. Will they ever learn, he does not want to?

      My impression, however, is that Time has had some good articles on Israel/Palestine in the last few years. I remember one by an Israeli, whose name I do not recall, which described why there was no political constituency for peace with the Palestinians among the Jews of Israel. This was before a vast majority of Americans had gotten wind of this fact.

      Also, Time has Tony Karon who is among the best writers on ME in the mainstream media, IMHO.

  5. Yeurgh, another one for the rogue’s gallery. He could take his place alongside Gaddafi and Mugabe. About as ugly too.

  6. RE: “Netanyahu, a man who keeps a picture of Winston Churchill on a shelf behind his desk, is now eyeing his role as ‘a defining figure in Israeli history and a significant player on the world stage’.” ~ Higgins

    FROM “Inaction as Action: How Churchill Sank the Lusitania”

    (excerpt) . . . Christopher Hitchens, who wrote a brilliant book on the history of Anglo-American relations entitled “Blood, Class, and Nostalgia” talks about is the sinking of the Lusitania, which he solidly proves is the responsibility of the British head of naval intelligence, Sir Winston Churchill.
    Churchill played a strong part in both the sinking of the ship and the controversy that ensued later.
    That there was such a large cache of arms on the ship (over 1,248 cases of shells) that it sunk after being hit by only one torpedo was not a surprise, nor was it uncommon; there was a sizable number of American citizens who supported the British war effort, supplying arms on almost every cruise ship between the nations. What was a surprise was the lack of protection given to the warship. Churchill had been warned that there were German submarines in the area (which had, in fact, already sunk several other British ships), and failed either to warn the ship or send any escort ships into the area.
    Tempting as it is to simply attribute this to negligence on Churchill’s part (warning the ships was solidly his responsibility), the odds of Churchill failing to do his duty were astronomically low. It would have taken a period of over ten days of negligence, according to Hitchens, for the sinking to occur.
    Churchill, one of the most efficient people in British government, could not reasonably have been so negligent; he could, however, have suppressed the information without effort. Had he wanted intelligence suppressed, the King himself could not have found anything out.
    Churchill didn’t stop there, however. After letting the ship (and most of the civilians on board) go down, he started an insidious publicity campaign and ran the investigation that “discovered” that there had been more than one torpedo, and he was responsible for the spread of a rumor that the Germans had created a Lusitania medal honoring soldiers who killed civilians. These propaganda moves helped shift public opinion in the United States to the British side…

    SOURCE – link to english.emory.edu

    • P.S. FROM “What Really Caused World War 1?”:

      (excerpt)…On May 7, 1915, the Lusitania was sunk off the coast of County Cork, Ireland by a U-boat after it had slowed to await the arrival of the English escort vessel, the Juno, which was intended to escort it into the English port. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, issued orders that the Juno was to return to port, and the Lusitania sat alone in the channel. Because Churchill knew of the presence of three U-boats in the vicinity, it is reasonable to presume that he had planned for the Lusitania to be sunk, and it was…

      SOURCE – link to threeworldwars.com

  7. RE: “Netanyahu, a man who keeps a picture of Winston Churchill on a shelf behind his desk, is now eyeing his role as ‘a defining figure in Israeli history and a significant player on the world stage’.” ~ Higgins


    (excerpt). . . In 1951, after the assassination of prime minister Ali Razmara, Dr. Mohammad Mosaddegh was elected prime minister by a parliamentary vote which was then ratified by the Shah. As prime minister, Mosaddegh became enormously popular in Iran after he nationalized Iran’s petroleum industry and oil reserves. In response, the British government, headed by Winston Churchill, embargoed Iranian oil and successfully enlisted the United States to join in a plot to depose the democratically elected government of Mosaddegh. In 1953 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized Operation Ajax. The operation was successful, and Mosaddegh was arrested on 19 August 1953. The coup was the first time the US had openly overthrown an elected, civilian government.[112]
    After Operation Ajax, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s rule became increasingly autocratic. With American support, the Shah was able to rapidly modernize Iranian infrastructure, but he simultaneously crushed all forms of political opposition with his intelligence agency, SAVAK. . .

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

  8. RE: “Netanyahu, a man who keeps a picture of Winston Churchill on a shelf behind his desk, is now eyeing his role as ‘a defining figure in Israeli history and a significant player on the world stage’.” ~ Higgins

    A DOCUMENTARY – Mussolini: The Churchill Conspiracies, 2007, NR, 96 minutes
    Examining a much-contested conspiracy theory, this intriguing documentary investigates accusations that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was assassinated by British secret agents on orders from British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Though proof has never been found, theorists believe Churchill wanted to cover up the existence of secret and damaging letters from the prime minister to the dictator regarding Italy’s position in World War II.
    Netflix Availability: Streaming and DVD
    NETFLIX LISTING – link to movies.netflix.com

    * SEE: Churchill ‘Ordered Killing Of Mussolini’, By Peter Popham in Rome, The Independent (UK), 8/29/04
    LINK – link to rense.com

  9. Kathleen says:

    King Bibi “Mr. Security” has always been in support of expanding illegal settlements and illegal housing in E Jerusalem. in the name of “security”

  10. RE: “‘King Bibi’ is ready for his close up”

    A MID-SPRING AFTERNOON’S VIDEO INTERLUDE, brought to you courtesy of the good folks who make new Ziocaine Über-Xtreme®: It’s guaran-damn-teed to knock you effing senseless!™

    Joe Gillis: “You’re Norma Desmond. You used to be in silent pictures. You used to be big.”
    Norma Desmond: “I *am* big. It’s the *pictures* that got small.”
    ~ ~ ~ ~
    Joe Gillis [narrating]:“So they were turning after all, those cameras. Life, which can be strangely merciful, had taken pity on Norma Desmond. The dream she had clung to so desperately had enfolded her.”
    Norma Desmond: [to newsreel camera] “And I promise you I’ll never desert you again because after ‘Salome’ we’ll make another picture and another picture. You see, this is my life! It always will be! Nothing else! Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark!… All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

    “Mr. DeMille, I’m Ready for My Close-Up”- Sunset Blvd. Movie CLIP (1950) HD [VIDEO, 02:43] – link to youtube.com

    P.S. SPECIAL MUSICAL BONUS: We Insist, by Zoe Keating on One Cello x 16: Natoma (2005) [VIDEO, 03:47] – link to youtube.com

  11. German Lefty says:

    Actually, I find Bibi pretty good-looking. Too bad he’s so ugly on the inside.

    Using the word “security” as synonym for preemptive war and illegal settlements is like saying “enhanced interrogation” instead of torture or “family values” instead of homophobia. I can’t stand such deliberate misuse of words.

    • I have always thought Netanyahu looks and acts a lot like Mussolini.
      • MUSSOLINI SPEECH TARANTO (VIDEO, 03:28) – link to youtube.com

      ALSO SEE: “Bibi and the Yo-Yos”, by Uri Avnery, Antiwar.com, 05/26/11:

      (excerpt) It was all rather disgusting.
      There they were, the members of the highest legislative bodies of the world’s only superpower, flying up and down like so many yo-yos, applauding wildly, every few minutes or seconds, the most outrageous lies and distortions of Binyamin Netanyahu.
      It was worse than the Syrian parliament during a speech by Bashar Assad, where anyone not applauding could find himself in prison. Or Stalin’s Supreme Soviet, when showing less than sufficient respect could have meant death.
      What the American Senators and Congressmen feared was a fate worse than death. Anyone remaining seated or not applauding wildly enough could have been caught on camera – and that amounts to political suicide. It was enough for one single congressman to rise and applaud, and all the others had to follow suit. Who would dare not to?
      The sight of these hundreds of parliamentarians jumping up and clapping their hands, again and again and again and again, with the Leader graciously acknowledging with a movement of his hand, was reminiscent of other regimes. Only this time it was not the local dictator who compelled this adulation, but a foreign one.
      The most depressing part of it was that there was not a single lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who dared to resist. When I was a 9 year old boy in Germany, I dared to leave my right arm hanging by my side when all my schoolmates raised theirs in the Nazi salute and sang Hitler’s anthem. Is there no one in Washington DC who has that simple courage? . . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to original.antiwar.com

  12. piotr says:

    In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. [And it was not pretty.]


    Other things that come to mind are stories about kings so strong that could not be possibly defeated, “till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.”

  13. dbroncos says:

    Be careful what you wish for, Bibi. There’s more than one kind of demigod in “the pantheon of World Leaders.”

  14. Sumud says:

    Putting aside for the moment that Netanyahu is a messianic nutjob there are a stack of parodies on YT about him – this is the best (make sure you have ‘annotation’ turned on for the English translation if you don’t spk hebrew):

    Ninet Tayeb “interviewing” Benjamin Netanyahu with english subs

  15. quercus says:

    Time Magazine is one of “Americas finest news publications”? Mr. Higgens should not be disseminating such inane propaganda.

    Time Magazine, like its counterpart, Newsweek, is a joke. People Magazine dressed up a little and with just enough “faux” intellectuality to appeal to those who think they are somehow smarter than readers of People, when in fact they might not be even that smart.

    The title of the article is just as silly as Newsweek calling Barack Obama the first “gay president”.

    • Hostage says:

      The title of the article is just as silly as Newsweek calling Barack Obama the first “gay president”.

      Not really. All of that futzing around with pictures of Winston Churchill is just hasbara. The Zionists never wanted a “Jewish and democratic state”. That’s also a load of hooey that the United Nations convinced them to mention in the Declaration that established their state. The author nailed it. These unstable minds have always thought of themselves as Kings and Messiahs:

      In 1895, when Theodor Herzl began to contemplate the idea of a Jewish national home, he envisioned a prominent role for his family in the future state. In a diary entry that year, Herzl described how his son Hans, then four years old, would be crowned head of state, or doge, as in medieval Venice, his model for the Jewish republic. “The procession which starts at the doge’s palace will be opened by Herzl-Cuirassiers. Then come the artillery and infantry … while all are marching in gold-studded gala uniforms, the high priests under canopies, the doge himself will wear the garb of shame of a medieval ghetto Jew: the pointed hat, the yellow badge. … When I thought that someday I might crown Hans as doge … I had tears in my eyes.”.In the remaining nine years of his life, Herzl (1860-1904) forged, almost single-handed, a worldwide movement. His children, Pauline, Hans and Trude, were raised like royalty, isolated from their peers, aware from early childhood of the burden of responsibility imposed on them by their surname. But in stark contrast to his political vision, Herzl’s dream of a family dynasty was not realized. All three children suffered from various forms of mental instability that marked them for life. Alienated from society, unable to support themselves, they were an embarrassment to the Zionist movement and a drain on its financial resources. They died, tormented and solitary, without witnessing the realization of their father’s vision.

      – Jewish Agency for Israel, “Doomed Dynasty” link to jewishagency.org

  16. Gee, poor mister Luce must be turning over in his grave. Once a proponent of The American Century, his prize journalistic child has joined the mainstream media pack and become a shameless,unselfconscious shill for the most disastrous “ally” and self-destructive policies ever embraced by US foreign policy mavens.

    Well, the guy who wrote, back in 1977 “Begin – rhymes with Fagan” must have retired quite some time ago.