The Washington Post is at it again. The editorial board of the newspaper just cannot refrain from attacking Israel. Its Dec. 6 commentary, “Netanyahu’s reaction to Biden’s victory is appalling,” offers more proof of the board’s anti-Israel bias.
Jackson Diehl, the Post’s deputy opinion-page editor, is upset. The reason? “When U.S. media designated” former U.S. Vice President Joe “Biden the winner on Nov. 7,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “delayed until the next day before publicly congratulating him.” Worse still, Diehl writes, “14 minutes later, Netanyahu separately tweeted thanks to Trump for “the friendship you have shown the state of Israel and me personally.” How dare he!
This supposed offense, suggests Diehl, makes the pro-U.S., democratically elected premier of Israel akin to an anti-American autocrat—or worse. Netanyahu’s “reaction to Biden’s victory has outstripped even that of Russian President Vladimir Putin in its malevolent audacity.” The Post’s language—and its absurd comparison—is unhinged. It’s not the language of a serious newspaper.
Netanyahu wasn’t the only world leader—or even the only world ally—to wait less than a day to congratulate Biden on winning an extremely close election. The leaders of Brazil and Mexico, among others, also did so. Curiously, however, the Post only singled out Israel.
And it’s worth noting that contrary to what Diehl implies, the media doesn’t “designate” the winner of a U.S. presidential election. That’s the job of electors—a fact for which Americans should probably be grateful, considering that both The Washington Post and The New York Times refuse to return the 2018 Pulitzer Prizes that both outlets were awarded for reporting that has since been discredited. Small wonder that, as Gallup reported in September 2020, the percentage of Americans with “no trust at all in U.S. mass media” is at an all-time high.
One can perhaps understand why Israel’s leader didn’t uncritically take “the U.S. media” at its word—particularly after reading the newspaper’s childish screed. It is less easy, however, to forgive the Post. Why single out the leader of Israel with an entire editorial? And why the language and absurd comparison?
Diehl tips his hand later in the editorial. Netanyahu, he laments, “has taken a militant stand against one of Biden’s principal foreign-policy pledges: that he would return the United States to the nuclear accord with Iran.” And in what Diehl terms a “provocative act,” the Jewish state “is widely reported to be behind the Nov. 27 assassination of Iran’s leading nuclear scientist.”
Diehl doesn’t mention, of course, that the nuclear “scientist” in question, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was a sworn member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated terrorist entity that has trained terror groups like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, provided shelter to Al-Qaeda, and murdered U.S. servicemen and women. Nor does Diehl tell Post readers that there’s been evidence that Iran has been violating the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—evidence that has been in the public domain for more than two years. In this regard, however, the newspaper that features “democracy dies in darkness” on its masthead seems impervious to facts.
On April 30, 2018, Netanyahu revealed that Israeli intelligence operatives managed to obtain thousands of documents, which were later authenticated by the U.S., showing that Iran had not only lied about its nuclear program but was engaged in hiding it during JCPOA negotiations. Yet the Post’s May 9, 2018 “Fact Check” claimed that Israel’s findings were “nothing new.” The newspaper didn’t explain, either then or later, how it made this determination without viewing the documents itself.
In fact, the Institute for Science and Security (ISIS), a nonpartisan U.S. think tank that did view some of those documents, concluded that Israel’s discovery was a “smoking gun” that showed previously “unknown sites” of nuclear activity, and that Iran’s archive was kept “active for possible future use” by the regime. Indeed, the former deputy director-general of the IAEA, Oli Heinonen, called the revelations in some of the documents a “jackpot.”
Yet for his skepticism towards a “deal” with a leading state sponsor of terrorism that has explicitly called for his country’s destruction, the Post’s editorial-board member lambasts Netanyahu as “militant.” The language is revealing. What Diehl really seems to resent is the leader of a democratic U.S. ally asserting his own policy prerogatives instead of subordinating them to what Diehl thinks best. Israel should know its place, even if the matter in question—Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons—is an existential one for the one Jewish state on this planet.
How dare they.
(Note: A slightly different version of this article appeared as an op-ed on Dec. 7, 2020 in JNS)