Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new pick for diplomacy chief is coming under fire for comments he made about President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry in the recent past.
Ran Baratz, the conservative academic recently appointed to chief of public diplomacy, has suggested that Obama is anti-Semitic, posting on his Facebook earlier this year that Obama’s reaction to Netanyahu’s Iran speech “is how modern anti-Semitism looks like in the modern Western world,” according to the New York Times.
Baratz also wrote a column in an online publication that suggested Kerry was someone “whose mental age doesn’t exceed 12,” JPost.com reported.
Some politicians in Israeli are now calling on Netanyahu to reconsider the appointment.
The controversy becomes just days before Netanyahu travels to the United States where it is believed the prime minister will attempt to make amends after relations with Democratic U.S. politicians grew testy over the Iran deal.
The prime minister’s office said via a Facebook post that Netanyahu was unaware of Baratz’s comments before appointing him and believes that they are “unworthy expressions,” according to the New York Times.
Baratz has also addressed the backlash, arguing that the comments were made while he was private citizen and meant to be humorous. He said in a Facebook post that his tone would be more serious as a public official.
Nevertheless, according to the New York Times report, Netanyahu’s critics are saying the appointment, at best, reveals the prime minister did not do proper vetting and might even reflect the prime minister’s thinking.
“A person like this who lashed out against President Obama, besmirched Secretary Kerry, and, worst of all, degraded the beloved president of his country — our most important symbol — must go home and immediately, before he even arrived,” Isaac Herzog, a rival politician, said at a press conference. “It was faulty judgment that a person like this suits an official national position.”