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David Gregory walks back bow to Netanyahu as ‘leader of the Jewish people’

on 23 Comments

David Gregory has walked back his jarring statement, on twitter.

This am I called Israeli PM the leader of the jewish ppl. Better to say he’s leader of jewish state.

Gregory had gotten hammered. By Scott Roth: you made a serious mistake in referring to the Israeli PM as the “leader of the Jewish People.” Josh Marshall doesn’t like it either. The underlying question is, Why did he say it? David Gregory is Jewish; does he believe at any level that Netanyahu is his leader?

Let’s unpack this some more. Netanyahu at the General Assembly a year ago said he was the leader of the Jewish people:

On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today…

As the prime minister of Israel, I speak for a hundred generations of Jews who were dispersed throughout the lands, who suffered every evil under the Sun, but who never gave up hope of restoring their national life in the one and only Jewish state.

But I guess you are the leader of the Jewish people if Israel is declared the nation of the “Jewish people.” Netanyahu to Congress:

President Obama rightly referred to Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people…

Tony Karon at Time:

The idea of Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people” was at the center of modern Zionism, which emerged in the late 19th century in response to centuries of often virulent anti-Semitism and emerging nationalism in central and eastern Europe. Jews would never have a secure place in the nation states of the West and East, the argument went, because anti-Semitism was immutable and inevitable whenever Jews lived among non-Jews. Thus the need to create an ethnic-Jewish nation state in Palestine, into which Jews could be “ingathered” from their “exile” in the Diaspora.

But then, as now, the majority of the world’s Jews did not imagine themselves in “exile” from an ancestral homeland. Most chose to live elsewhere and to — naively in the minds of the Zionists — integrate themselves into other nationalities. Only a couple of hundred thousand moved to Palestine to help build a Jewish homeland.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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23 Responses

  1. annie on September 17, 2012, 10:29 am

    plus, the interview was pre recorded. they could have cut it, they didn’t. oversite? i doubt it.

  2. DaveS on September 17, 2012, 10:32 am

    I’m not a fan of Gregory, and think he dropped the ball on this interview in other ways. But in his defense, I suspect that he never planned to say that phrase, and it came out wrong. If it were in writing, rather than spoken extemporaneously, I would have a different opinion. He was trying to goad Bibi into responding to his question, and he went a little overboard.
    Also, in one respect, Bibi could make a claim to be the leader of the Jewish people. Israel purports to be the State of the Jewish people, and Bibi is the leader of the State. Of course, that says more about the perverse conception of Israel as the State of the Jewish people than it does about Bibi actually being the leader of Jews worldwide.

    • Les on September 17, 2012, 2:09 pm

      The non-stop racist depiction of Palestinians by our media motivates many American Jews to emigrate to Israel and to occupied Palestine where they get to demonstrate their racial superiority. I think it is less of an issue that they are Jewish than that they are white racists produced by American culture. Justifying this because they are Jewish, requires a shrink, not a historian.

  3. seanmcbride on September 17, 2012, 11:52 am

    For David Gregory to claim (and this is obviously what he really believes) that Benjamin Netanyahu is “the leader of the Jewish people” opens the door to legitimate speculation about whether Diaspora Jews owe greater loyalty to Israel than to their respective nations of citizenship and residence.

    No wonder Gregory is now trying to walk back his incredibly inflammatory statement. But he can’t walk it back. He said it and he meant it. And he has managed to richly entangle his Judaism with his Zionism — a political blunder of the highest order which has also been made by the worldwide Jewish establishment.

    • Mooser on September 17, 2012, 12:08 pm

      “And he has managed to richly entangle his Judaism with his Zionism”

      Other religions promise a reward in heaven, but a strong enough Jewish belief can get you a condo, mit Schwimmbad in occupied Palestine. If other religions haven’t been smart enough to use enticements like this, it’s their own fault!

    • on September 17, 2012, 1:08 pm

      Essentially, though, if he ever admitted being “Jewish” he now declared in public that he is an “Israel-firster”. A so-called walkback on Twitter is ridiculous.
      Everyone around here should push hard enough to have the label stick to him with fish glue. Any and all propaganda mouths need insistent campaigns to discredit them. Why not request officially a real, prominent and effective “walk back” on his station, with the threat that he’ll be targeted from now on? Not that threats are effective with Zionists, especially retards…

  4. sandhillexit on September 17, 2012, 12:28 pm

    By silencing all dissenting voices the mainstream media is really missing the story, which is a general disapproval across the country for a third round of these wars of choice. I would say that the President’s stance is a pretty accurate reading of where the country (outside Washington) is on more war. The analysis is pretty simple, and involves our doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Most Americans have clued in that more war will not reverse the damage done to our reputation. We are not winning hearts and minds.
    $3 Tril later, this is how the world sees us
    Romney’s numbers have not recovered from his trip to Israel. Nobody says it out loud, though. Funny how that works. Mr. Romney is proving an inadequate messenger and the PM is looking a bit desperate.

    • David Doppler on September 17, 2012, 3:24 pm

      You make good points, Sandhillexit. There’s something akin to a tabu about saying certain things, so people refrain. My lone neocon friend at a dinner recently said loudly that he and another of his outlook were discussing how they didn’t know how a single Jew could vote for Obama this time around. Several of us were well aware of Jeremy Ben Ami’s Newshour interview recently where he goaded Dan Shapiro to the effect that Obama’s got 75% of the Jewish vote, so what he needs is more Jews, but who wants to take on neocons in a loud voice in a public place talking about Jews this and Jews that? Silence does not equal acquiescence, however.

      What irks me is the attitude which too many people buy into that the public cannot handle open criticism of Jews, because they’ll overgeneralize and Anti-Semitism flames will be fanned. America is about limited government and one of the most important limits is a well-informed public. Efforts to keep them in the dark are inherently un-American. And they’re not in the dark on this subject, at least not anymore, they just haven’t found their voice yet (other than Mondoweiss).

      Now with the Arab mobs up in arms about this vile movie clip, there’s no way Americans are going to buy into invading to occupy still another country.

  5. gingershot on September 17, 2012, 12:30 pm

    Was Cathy Crowley’s interview with Netanyahu on CNN the most important American news footage in the history of American foreign policy in the Middle East?

    Here’s a must-see exchange Cathy Crowley and Netanyahu on Face the Nation – there are a set of 4 questions that Cathy Crowley where Cathy refuses to be cowed by the Israeli Lobby-mafia rules of the game with Israel and smokes these critical followups right by Netanyahu – his decompensation and his shock over having to defend any of his lies at all is palpable.

    This is a liar scrambling cover up having been outed for his lies –

    ~ the set really gets going at about 4:10 on the tape but watch the whole thing

    [Here is where Cathy Crowley won’t put up with the lies has told innumerable times on the American news networks and talks shows:]

    CathyCrowley Followup: Do you mean you (Israel) and the US know that? Because from what I read and what I hear I don’t get the sense that the US has the certainty that you do or the urgency that you seem to have – is there a disconnect there?

    [Watch Netanyahu decompensate and try to cover his lies –
    he immediately loses his balance and tries to backtrack on his lies because he could see the headlines:]

    CC Followup: Do you mean you (Israel) and the US know that? Because from what I read and what I hear I don’t get the sense that the US has the certainty that you do or the urgency that you seem to have – is there a disconnect there?

    CC Followup: I get the sense that your hour long phone consveration with President Obama did not get you where you wanted to go insofar as US unwillingness to set this red line – is that correct?

    CC Followup: Is the answer then that ‘NO’ you don’t’have the red line you would like to have from the US – can you at least tell me that?

    In my opinion this is some of the most important exposure of Netanyahu and Israel in the modern history of the conflict

    • chauncey on September 17, 2012, 3:59 pm

      You are right, Candy did not toe the line a-la Mr. Gregory.

      What’s wrong with Candy? She doesn’t appear to be sufficiently in love with the idea of Israel.

      “We value, we cherish, * the bipartisan support for Israel in th United States…”

      *we pay good money for

    • Empiricon on September 17, 2012, 5:08 pm

      How about this exchange starting right at the 4:00 mark. Has to be a world record for totally contradicting onself and lying about doing so:

      NETANYAHU: …Come on. We know that they’re working towards a weapon. They’re not — we know that. It’s not something that we surmise. We have absolutely certainty about that. And they’re advancing towards that nuclear program.

      CROWLEY: Do you mean you and the U.S. know that, because I don’t from what I read, from what I hear, I don’t get the sense that the U.S. has the certainty that you do or the urgency that you seem to have. Is there a disconnect there?

      NETANYAHU: First of all, I talked about the certainty of their enrichment program, and I didn’t talk about the other elements. And I spoke about the difficulty of knowing other things…

    • Citizen on September 17, 2012, 11:00 pm

      Thanks for the Crowley interview; she did not buy his conflation line at all. Neither as to US v Israel interests, or POV on Iranian uranium enrichment, nor on Obama v Mitt having a POV on Iran closer to his own. Pretty amazing. He had to switch from his”this is how it is” to this is how it “should be.” Wonder if any media pundits will pick up Crowley’s quarter-backing?

  6. Empiricon on September 17, 2012, 12:57 pm

    Interesting. Over the past few years, Gregory studied Judaism with Erica Brown, who from what little I read seems to be a mainstream liberal American Jew, i.e. progressive except when it come to Israel and Palestine. Her Rosh Hashanah message barely touches religious wisdom or faith before plowing into a litany of Judeo/Israeli-centric celebrations or claims of victimhood. There is literally nothing in her message that connects Judaism to the rest of the world — but plenty that separates it. I find this urge for separateness chilling. If this is who Gergory has learned his “faith” from, no wonder he sees Bibi as the leader of the Jewish people.

  7. Dexter on September 17, 2012, 3:14 pm

    Too many “liberal” Jews in the media who have a warm, fuzzy place in their hearts for Zionism.

    Somewhere out there, millions of Palestinians are collectively thinking: “how the hell did these people become OUR problem?!”

  8. DICKERSON3870 on September 17, 2012, 3:19 pm

    RE: “. . . But I guess you are the leader of the Jewish people if Israel is declared the nation of the ‘Jewish people’.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: Uri Avnery sees this issue as perhaps being Israel’s “Achilles heel” (so to speak).


    [EXCERPTS] The Israeli Interior Ministry recognizes 126 nations, but not the Israeli nation. An Israeli citizen can be registered as belonging to the Assyrian, the Tatar or the Circassian nation. But the Israeli nation? Sorry, no such thing.
    According to the official doctrine, the State of Israel cannot recognize an “Israeli” nation because it is the state of the “Jewish” nation. In other words, it belongs to the Jews of Brooklyn, Budapest and Buenos Aires, even though these consider themselves as belonging to the American, Hungarian or Argentine nations. Messy? Indeed.
    THIS MESS started 113 years ago, when the Viennese Journalist Theodor Herzl wrote his book “The State of the Jews”. (That’s the true translation. The generally used name “The Jewish State” is false and means something else.) For this purpose he had to perform an acrobatic exercise. One can say that he used a white lie.
    Modern Zionism was born as a direct response to modern anti-Semitism. Not by accident, the term “Zionismus” came into being some 20 years after the term “Antisemitismus” was invented in Germany. They are twins. . .
    . . . Herzl understood that the new reality was inherently dangerous for the Jews. In the beginning he cherished the idea of complete assimilation: all the Jews would be baptized and disappear in the new nations. As a professional writer for the theater, he even devised the scenario: all Viennese Jews would march together to St. Stephen’s cathedral and be baptized en masse.
    When he realized that this scenario was a bit far-fetched, Herzl passed from the idea of individual assimilation to what may be called collective assimilation: if there is no place for the Jews in the new nations, then they should define themselves as a nation like all the others</b, rooted in a homeland of their own and living in a state of their own. This idea was called Zionism.
    BUT THERE was a problem: a Jewish nation did not exist. The Jews were not a nation but a religious-ethnic community. . . Herzl had to ignore this difference. He pretended that the Jewish ethnic-religious community was also a Jewish nation. In other words: contrary to all other peoples, the Jews were both a nation and a religious community; as far as Jews were concerned, the two were the same. The nation was a religion, the religion was a nation.
    This was the white lie. There was no other way: without it, Zionism could not have come into being. The new movement took the Star of David from the synagogue, the candlestick from the Temple, the blue-and-white flag from the prayer shawl. The holy land became a homeland. Zionism filled the religious symbols with secular, national content. . . The first to detect the falsification were the Orthodox Rabbis. Almost all of them damned Herzl and his Zionism in no uncertain terms.
    When Herzl originated the Zionist idea, he did not intend to found the “State of the Jews” in Palestine, but in Argentina. Even when writing his book, he devoted to the country only a few lines, under the headline “Palestine or Argentina?” However, the movement he created compelled him to divert his endeavors to the Land of Israel, and so the state came into being here.
    When the State of Israel was founded and the Zionist dream realized, there was no further need for the white lie . . .

    . . . [W]hy do the words “Jewish state” appear in our [Israel’s] Declaration of Independence? There was a simple reason for that: the UN had adopted a resolution to partition the country between an “Arab state” and a “Jewish state.” That was the legal basis of the new state. The declaration, which was drafted in haste, said therefore that we were establishing “the Jewish state (according to the UN resolution), namely the State of Israel.”…
    . . . LIKE MOST of us at the time [of the founding of Israel in 1948], David Ben-Gurion believed that Zionism had supplanted religion and that religion had become redundant. He was quite sure that it would shrivel and disappear by itself in the new secular state. He decided that we could afford to dispense with the military service of Yeshiva bochers (Talmud school students), believing that their number would dwindle from a few hundred to almost none. The same thought caused him to allow religious schools to continue in existence. Like Herzl, who promised to “keep our Rabbis in the synagogues and our army officers in the barracks,” Ben-Gurion was certain that the state would be entirely secular. . .
    . . . BUT THE white lie of Herzl had results he did not dream of, as did the compromises of Ben-Gurion. Religion did not wither away in Israel, but on the contrary: it is gaining control of the state. The government of Israel does not speak of the nation-state of the Israelis who live here, but of the “nation-state of the Jews” – a state that belongs to the Jews all over the world, most of whom belong to other nations.
    The religious schools are eating up the general education system and are going to overpower it, if we don’t become aware of the danger and assert our Israeli essence. Voting rights are about to be accorded to Israelis residing abroad, and this is a step towards giving the vote to all Jews around the world. And, most important: the ugly weeds growing in the national-religious field – the fanatical settlers – are pushing the state in a direction that may lead to its destruction. . .

    SOURCE –

    • DICKERSON3870 on September 17, 2012, 3:43 pm


      SEE: “A Serial Obstructionist”, By Rachel Tabachnick, ZEEK – Forward, 3/15/10

      (EXCERPTS) . . . Shortly after Vice President Joe Biden’s arrival in Israel, Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat were the headliners at Pastor John Hagee’s two-hour Christians United for Israel (CUFI) extravaganza at the Jerusalem Convention Center. . .
      . . . Monday’s CUFI production was based on the concept of “biblical Zionism,” or the belief that God mandates nonnegotiable borders of Israel, and any leader or nation who thwarts this divine plan will be cursed. Before introducing Netanyahu, Hagee stated, “World leaders do not have the authority to tell Israel and the Jewish people what they can and can not do in Jerusalem.” He added, “Israel does not exist because of a decree of the United Nations in 1948. Israel exists because of a covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. . . The settlements are not the problem.”
      In his books and sermons Hagee has promoted a “greater Israel,” that will reclaim all of Israel’s former biblical territory, stating “In modern terms, Israel rightfully owns all of present-day Israel, all of Lebanon, half of Syria, two-thirds of Jordan, all of Iraq, and the northern portion of Saudi Arabia.”
      At the Jerusalem CUFI event Hagee described Ahmadinejad as the Hitler of the Middle East who could turn the world upside down in 24 hours, words similar to those he made when lobbying for the attack on Iraq. . .
      . . . During a performance by singer Dudu Fisher, the God TV camera panned to the audience and centered on Joel Bell, leader of Worldwide Biblical Zionists. WBZ is currently building a center in Sha’ar Benjamin for “facilitating absorption” of Christian Zionists into the West Bank. It was established after a joint meetingheld in Texas of the Board of Governors of World Likud led by Danny Danon, and World Evangelical Zionists led by Joel Bell. Speakers included ZOA’s Morton Klein. . .


  9. atime forpeace on September 17, 2012, 8:18 pm

    Gary G. Sick (born 1935) is an American academic and analyst of Middle East affairs, with special expertise on Iran, who served on the U.S. National Security Council < under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. He has authored two books on U.S.-Iran relations, in addition to a number of co-edited books and numerous articles and scholarly contributions.

    "Mr Netanyahu is correct in his apparent assumption that the US can do a much better job of destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities than Israel can do alone. However, his unconcealed pressure on the president of the United States during the final stages of an election is a power play without precedent. The small ally tail does occasionally attempt to wag the American dog, but seldom so blatantly."

    • chauncey on September 18, 2012, 3:21 am

      In 1992 Gary Sick wrote a book called “October Surprise.”

      Barbara Honegger had been the first to tell this story, three years earlier in a book with the same title. Sick did not acknowledge the earlier book, nor its title.

      • marc b. on September 18, 2012, 2:02 pm

        Barbara Honegger had been the first to tell this story, three years earlier in a book with the same title.

        point well made. there was some amazing research done into the evolution of post-war iran back in the 80’s. david emory, before he devolved into full blown insane islamo-fascism mode, had an excellent series on the history of the october surprise, which essentially had roots back to mossadegh’s iran. see his interviews with fara mansoor, a synopsis of which is provided via harry martin:

        an interesting note relevant to the assassination of the US ambassador to libya:

        On February 14, 1979, two weeks after Khomeini’s return to Iran, the U.S. Embassy in Teheran was seized by Khomeini supporters disguised as leftist guerrillas in an attempt to neutralize the left. U.S. hostages were seized, but to the chagrin of Khomeini’s Fundamentalist, the Iranian coalition government restored order immediately. Ironically, in the same day in Kabul, Afghanistan, the U.S. Ambassador was also kidnapped by fanatic Islamic Fundamentalists disguised as leftist guerrillas and killed in the gunfight.

        so at the same time that it is alleged US intelligence assets loyal to reagan/bush are manipulating events in tehran, the US ambassador in kabul is assassinated. what a coincidence.

      • chauncey on September 19, 2012, 3:15 am

        Interesting proposed sequence of events by Mansoor. Perhaps Carter was lucky to lose only the presidency and not his life for following in JFK’s footsteps in trying to clean up the CIA

  10. Les on September 18, 2012, 7:17 pm

    A more serious slip by Gregory would have been to label Netanyahu, King of the Jews.

  11. tangenjill on September 18, 2012, 9:29 pm

    Gregory is incompetent. How about Crowley for the job?!

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