Question of the Week – Netanyahuphobia

star-survey-150Week 52 – even if almost over 🙁

Of late I have been bombarded with anti Netanyahu graphics: Netanyahu as devil, as psychopath, as war criminal†. The implication (not helped by an election campaign where the only issue seems to be personalities) is that one man is personally and entirely responsible for everything Israel does – or in the case of the war crimes charge, doesn’t do. Animosity by some Israelis doesn’t help.

At a conference held recently under the auspices of I tried to raise the question of whether attacking the Prime Minister damages Israel in the public diplomacy war. The panel chair couldn’t back away from that fast enough. It’s OK to criticise, and they deserve it, the foreign media but ourselves not so much.

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winston-churchill-says-we-deserve-victory[1]When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.

Winston Churchill


Once there was an agreement among American politicians that ‘politics stops at the water’s edge’ℵ. It meant that domestic US politics, particularly those arising from the presidential election of 1948 would not be allowed to interfere with foreign relations. Loyal Americans took it one step further to mean that the President of the United States would be immune to personal criticism in front of foreigners.

You didn’t have to be American to apply the same rule. It used to be the same for the Jews and, at least as much as I was aware of it, for Israelis. Jews didn’t hang out their dirty laundry for foreigners. Whatever our politics we didn’t criticise whatever the current government in Israel was doing. During the turbulent years of the A.U.S. resolutions that meant that student activists whose background was Habonim (associated with the Israeli Labour movement) could sit on the same platform with Bnei Akiva people (National Religious Party), Betar (Likud) or non-aligned and present a united front.

Then something happened. Suddenly it was OK to take domestic criticism abroad. It probably was the obsession with George Bush 43 that started it. I remember how shocked I was when a visiting American relative suddenly launched into an anti Bush rant. Now I expect it about Obama. Suddenly it was normal. The same with Israelis and Netanyahu (although millions of Arab and other dollars, for example George Soros to attract as-a-Jews helped).

I believe it does tremendous damage to Israel.


I think I have invented a new word – Netanyahuphobia.  Naturally, I considered the alternative name – Bibiphobia but somehow an affectionate nickname and an irrational anxiety disorder, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, seem to be a clumsy combination. Netanyahuphobia is the belief that PM Binyamin Netanyahu, is personally responsible for everything you don’t like about Israel and insane, to boot.

It is a phobia held by Israel Haters and a small but influential body of Israelis who somehow have never got over the fact they are no longer in power. It is irrational because a democratically elected prime minister, limited by parliament/ministries/cabinet/public opinion, election considerations and the Israel Supreme Court, doesn’t even have the power of an American president let alone an Arab leader.

There is a variety of Netanyahuphobia named after his wife, Saraphobia. While I grant that she might well be the employer from hell and has a stratosphericly inflated self-esteem, does the attention devoted to her reflect her importance or the importance of her spouse?

This phobia is closely related to Thatcherphobia, Bushophobia and Abbottophobia‡. Some might argue that the name is too complex or confusing although that is a characteristic of many phobias. Without racing to your dictionaries who can tell me what Ablutophobia, Acarophobia, Acerophobia and Achluophobia mean?*

I would not place Islamophobia in this list. There is nothing irrational in fearing Islam.

Extra credit

ℵ Republican Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
† The examples of anti Netanyahu art have all been altered slightly to avoid them being inadvertently recycled and used against us.
‡ For the insular among us, Anthony John “Tony” Abbott the 28th and current Prime Minister of Australia.
* Ablutophobia- Fear of washing or bathing.
Acarophobia- Fear of itching or of the insects that cause itching.
Acerophobia- Fear of sourness.
Achluophobia- Fear of darkness. (Phobia List)

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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