When an unnamed American government official last week labeled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit,” Israelis were left scratching their heads trying to figure out the meaning and origin of their leader’s newest epithet.
Israel’s leading newspapers and television news programs featured panels of experts assembled to discuss the apparently baffling term, and whether or not it had an equivalent in Hebrew.
Most seemed to ultimately agree that “chickenshit” is nothing more than a very strong and boorish way of calling someone a coward.
Many also concurred that it was nothing short of hypocritical for the Obama Administration to accuse Netanyahu of cowardice when the current American leadership had failed time and again to strongly and effectively confront various Middle East threats, including Iran’s nuclear program, the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and other radical Islamist movements.
As the media storm over the insult grew, US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday phoned Netanyahu to apologize.
A day earlier, he told reporters that the White House condemned anyone using such language to describe the leader of one of America’s staunchest allies. “It does not reflect the president, it does not reflect me, it is disgraceful, unacceptable, damaging,” said Kerry.