WaPo gives Israeli President-elect Reuven Rivlin the Full Snide Treatment
Reuven Rivlin, the speaker of Israel’s Parliament for the last 10 years, has been chosen by his colleagues in the Knesset to succeed Shimon Peres as Israel’s 10th president. Rivlin is not well known on the international scene, but he has an impressive legislative and political record at home.
A native of Jerusalem, Rivlin has been a veteran member of the center-right Likud party. He first was elected to the Knesset in 1988 and rose to the speakership after the 2003 elections.
He is generally regarded as a fair speaker pleasing and displeasing both the left and the right. He didn’t gain popularity by resisting the expulsion of an Arab lawmaker who joined an anti-Israel flotilla that sought to break the siege of Gaza. He also resisted removal of the pension of a former lawmaker who fled Israel and assisted Hezbollah during the 2006 Second Lebanon War against Israel.
Rivlin opposed then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to deport thousands of Jews from Gaza, correctly siding with those who warned that unilateral disengagement would turn out to be a huge strategic mistake. Rivlin also clashed with Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak over the court’s authority to invalidate laws passed by the Knesset.
And he has not shied away from tangling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even though they’re both veteran Likudniks.
Given such a résumé, how does the Washington Post report Rivlin’s accession to Israel’s presidency, a largely ceremonial post but one that has gained more visibility under Shimon Peres, who hasn’t shied away from asserting his own political views?
Far from focusing on Rivlin’s political and legislative record, William Booth, the Post’s Jerusalem bureau chief, engages in a sophomoric exercise of mockery and snide asides. Booth definitely prefers Peres over Rivlin. While Peres is “courtly and cerebral,” Booth dismisses Rivlin as a “hard-liner,” a “hard-right native son,” who’s averse to a two-state solution. The pejorative “hard-liner” label also is served up in the headline, “Parliament elects hard-liner Rivlin as Israel’s next president -- Successor to Peres has had stormy relationship with Netanyahu” June 11, Page A7.
Among the negatives trotted out by Booth is Rivlin’s support of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital --- never mind that retention of a united Jerusalem enjoys broad consensus among Israelis.
But there are quite a few more digs in Booth’s piece, such as Netanyahu’s disagreements with Rivlin. “Rumors are that Netanyahu’s wife doesn’t like Rivlin,” Booth writes. You know how low a reporter sinks when he has to rely on “rumors” as his source. Yet, this doesn’t bother Booth in the slightest. In describing Peres’ relations with Netanyahu, he writes that “cynics say that Peres provided Netanyahu with cover, showing Israel as a nation struggling mightily to make peace with the Palestinians, even as Netanyahu’s coalition ministers undermined such efforts.”
Booth evidently is not averse to using “rumors” and “cynics” as attributions for his own cynical and snide reporting. It makes you wonder how low a reporter will sink to advance an anti-Israel agenda.
Question: Would Booth and the Post give Mahmoud Abbas this kind of cynical treatment?
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers