If you asked most Israelis, they never really liked or trusted Barack Obama, and if you ask most Israelis today, they like Donald Trump. This is one of the things that separates Israel’s people from Israel’s press corps. The Israeli press is still in la-la-land.
If you watch Channel Two’s Arad Nir or Channel Ten’s Gil Tamari, or listened to Kol Yisrrael’s Matan Gutman, or any of the anchormen and anchor-women on Israel TV or Israel Radio, you will discover they not only despise Donald Trump (and worship and pine after Obama) but they think Trump is either mentally ill or anti-Semitic, or both.
They were sure that Trump could never win. On election eve, many Israeli pundits cited two-week-old polls by Reuters showing Hillary Clinton beating Trump by 15% or more, with almost 400 electoral votes. They ignored more up-to-date polls from Gallup, Rasmussen and the L.A. Times showing Trump had a real chance to become president.
Indeed, it seems many Israeli pundits are still not quite sure that Trump won. They cannot even admit that he would invite Israel’s leader to the White House in one of his first acts, not only bringing him in the front door but welcoming him with open arms.
Despite the fact that Trump’s inner circle—family and finances—is full of Jews, even religious and Zionist Jews, the Israeli pundits still suspect Trump as a Jew-hater.
“He is surrounded by people and by advisors who are anti-Semites,” asserted Arad Nir, Channel Two’s commentator, claiming Trump had not condemned anti-Semitism more strongly—remarks and charges that he made without a shred of evidence.
Nir’s remarks came on his daily show and at a February 14 panel on the BDS boycott against Israel. Less than ten days later Nir looked even more foolish after he exploded against Trump for not condemning the desecration of graves in St. Louis.
The next day Trump clearly condemned the attack several times, and he even sent his vice president to the cemetery to excoriate racism and Jew-hatred, while the vice president cleaned the graves with his own hands and with a rake in front of cameras.
“It was not enough,” opined the opinionated Nir, who found it easier to continue criticizing Trump than to admit that he was once again wrong in his commentary, as he was wrong about his predictions that Trump would lose the primaries and the election.
A few days later, on February 26, Nir highlighted the fact that President Trump decided to stay away from the White House Correspondents dinner, where the president and the reporters make jokes about one another.
Many “progressive” journalists say Trump is crude and thin-skinned, even deeply hostile to the press, but the obvious truth is that Trump has been more open—much more open—to press access and interchange than any president or presidential candidate in recent years.
President Obama rarely held press conferences. Hillary Clinton avoided the press for nearly an entire year, preferring to keep them behind barricades. Obama liked to sit down with NON-White House reporters like late-night hosts such as Dave Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel or Jimmy Falon or the sycophants on talk shows like The View.
Trump has certainly been crude at times, and he has shown a thin skin at times, but so have other presidents, including Democrat presidents, though Nir and most of the American and Israeli leftists would prefer not to remember.
President Harry Truman threatened to punch a Washington Post commentator in the nose or kick him in the groin—for writing that Truman’s daughter was not a great singer. Obama regularly whined about Fox News and “talk radio,” encouraging his supporters to confront them.
But Trump has a better case for his claims that much of the press is hostile, particularly CNN and The New York Times, publishing re-hashed rumors about Russian infiltration of the Trump team and Russian manipulation of the US elections—rumors that originally surfaced with a British agent hired to hurt the Trump campaign.
Both the Times and CNN asserted that several US intelligence sources verified the claims, but that was denied by the intelligence agencies, and CNN and The Times have failed to make their case, spectacularly, and they have yet to apologize.
Many polls show most Americans think Trump is right to think the press is out to get him. Indeed, they trust him to tell the truth more than the press. A Fox poll this month showed 45% trusted Trump to tell the truth more than the 42% trusting the press. The same poll showed that 68% found the press treated Trump more harshly than Obama.
“One thing is clear, and that is that Trump has no sense of humor,” said Nir who has never shown a sense of humor or introspection regarding himself or the US press that largely failed to understand, let alone predict, the Trump phenomenon, while generally serving up puff-balls to then-President Obama when he deigned to meet with them.
So if you want to hear or watch CNN in Hebrew or read The New York Times with a Leftist Israeli accent, just tune in to the main media in Israel, but don’t be surprised when events surprise you.
A version of this column was originally published in Algemeiner.