Benjamin Netanyahu caused a media sensation back in 2017 when he referred to his political rivals as “sour pickles” during a raucous Knesset debate.
“When chamutzim talk, you hear conversations like, ‘Isn’t the situation here horrible and terrible? Isn’t everything falling apart? By the way, did you order tickets to London or Berlin?’” said Netanyahu at the time in response to constant bickering over his long governance. “They’re sour, and off they fly!”
Chamutzim is the Hebrew word for “pickles.” In this context, it’s the equivalent of calling someone a “sourpuss.”
The media had a field day, as did Netanyahu and his PR department. Bibi sent out a tweet posing with a large can of Israeli pickles under the caption: “We have a wonderful nation that loves to eat pickles, but it is not sour.”
יש לנו עם נהדר שאוהב לאכול חמוצים, אבל הוא לא חמוץ! ???? pic.twitter.com/QNjgcjOFrf
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) October 23, 2017
Soon everyone was calling anyone who disagreed with them a “pickle.”
On Monday, new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett turned those words back on Netanyahu, declaring before the Knesset: “You’ve become the new sour pickles (sourpusses). What you’ve neglected, we are fixing, and you are the new pickles. You just grumble, complain and whine.”
A fierce exchange quickly broke out between Bennett and Netanyahu.
“One question for Bennett and [Foreign Minister Yair] Lapid’s fraudulent government — how did you manage in such a short time to spoil our success in the fight against the coronavirus?” demanded Netanyahu. Israel’s COVID-19 infections rates are again on the rise just months after it declared “victory” over the virus.
Bennett shot back that he had no need to publicly announce and praise every move he made as prime minister, before explaining that “we sealed the gaps [in the vaccine supply] that you left behind, but we don’t need to call a press conference for every phone call with [Pfizer CEO] Bourla.”
Netanyahu also again slammed Bennett, a right-wing religious politician, for forming a government with far-left and anti-Zionist Arab parties. Bennett reminded the Knesset that it was Netanyahu himself who first courted the Islamist party Ra’am to join, or at least cooperate with his would-be coalition. “They went like thieves in the night to meet [Ra’am party leader] Mansour [Abbas]. In colloquial terms: You didn’t do it like a man,” charged Bennett.
Suffice it to say, there is absolutely no love lost between the current and the former prime ministers.