Israelis up in arms over PM's posturing at march

2015-01-14 22:12
(Philippe Wojazer, AFP)

(Philippe Wojazer, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Jerusalem - Images of Israel's premier elbowing his way to the front row of world leaders in Paris sparked both embarrassment and amusement back home - providing rich pickings for opponents in the upcoming election.

A welter of headlines and columns were prompted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's pushing to the front of Sunday's march in Paris and unsuccessfully trying to jump to the head of a queue waiting for a bus.

Many joked that such "pushiness" is a quintessentially Israeli trait, but Netanyahu has still faced a storm of criticism for his behaviour, with some alleging he was trying to make political hay for the general election due in March.

"We would expect the prime minister to represent us with dignity and not to disgrace us," wrote Shimon Shiffer in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

"I was embarrassed to see the Israeli leader push his way to the first bus of the leaders, and then elbow himself into the front row of state leaders," he wrote.

Sunday's event saw world leaders join several million marching in solidarity in Paris after Islamic extremists killed 17 people in attacks targeting satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket.

One of the enduring images from the march was Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas walking in the front row on either side of President Francois Hollande.

Israeli media have reported that France asked Netanyahu to stay away from the march, but he ignored the request and attended anyway.

'Typically crass and unnecessary'

After joining others at Hollande's Elysee Palace, Netanyahu tried to edge his way into the first bus taking officials to the starting point of the march but failed.

Once he was at the march, Netanyahu deftly manoeuvred his way from the second row to the first by way of a friendly handshake with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita - whose country does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

"It was embarrassing, not to mention disgraceful, to see Israel's prime minister... trying to push his way onto a bus that he was not supposed to board, making his way determinedly from the second row to the row of leaders walking in front," said Ben Caspit of the Maariv daily.

He accused Netanyahu of behaving like he was at an election rally and of "taking advantage of the French in a typically crass and unnecessary Israeli way".

Left-leaning daily Haaretz even compared the prime ministry to an unruly tourist.

"Just as you can sometimes identify Israeli tourists abroad by their loud voices, poor manners and gauche behaviour, none of the hundreds of millions of people around the world who watched Sunday's Paris rally on television had any problem locating Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," Yossi Verter of Haaretz wrote.

Members of the youth wing of the opposition Labour party even created an online game using Netanyahu's nickname called "Push the Bibi" - in which players have 30 seconds to manoeuvre the Israeli leader from the back of the crowd to the front.

'Doesn't deserve scorn'

At the end of the game a message reads: "When Bibi wins, everyone else loses. We need a different leadership that will put Israel in the front row, without pushing."

Images of the leaders' march sparked another story in Israel after an ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspaper airbrushed out Germany's Angela Merkel, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo - in line with a traditional ban on printing images of women.

Netanyahu engaged in a little revision himself on his official Facebook page, neatly cutting Abbas out of photographs of the lineup.

Sources in Netanyahu's office told Maariv that the protocol sent from the Elysee to the Israeli embassy in Paris had stated he was supposed to march in the first row.

Some commentators did jump to Netanyahu's defence.

Writing in Haaretz, Tal Niv said the premier "doesn't deserve the scorn heaped on him".

"It's not pleasant to see him inserting his unflattering hairdo into the crowds at the rally, but the front-row picture... is the picture that could return him to the prime minister's office," she wrote.

"Contempt for his stressed appearance or his pushiness shouldn't obscure the fact that he succeeded in sending a clear message... 'Come home. I'll protect you'," she said, referring to Netanyahu's appeal to French Jews to move to Israel.

Read more on:    benjamin netanyahu  |  israel  |  france  |  paris shooting

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.