It was disparaging comments made earlier this year about President Barack Obama that led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to suspend the appointment of spokesman Ran Baratz on Thursday ― just a day after issuing the appointment in the first place ― but Baratz has a long history of making inflammatory public remarks.
While we wait to see if the suspension of Baratz, the founding editor of conservative news site Mida, will be permanent, here’s a roundup of some of his most controversial comments.
1. When he called Obama an anti-Semite.
When Obama openly opposed Netanyahu urging Congress in March to block the Iran deal, Baratz took to Facebook to slam the president’s remarks as “what modern anti-Semitism looks like in Western liberal countries” that came as a result of “a lot of tolerance and understanding of Islamic anti-Semitism; so much tolerance and understanding that they are willing to give [Iran] a nuke.”
2. When he said Secretary of State John Kerry had the mental capacity of a child and should be a comedian.
In a Mida column last year, Baratz responded to Kerry’s suggestion that increasing violence in the Middle East may be tied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by declaring that Kerry’s “mental age doesn’t exceed 12.”
Baratz took to Facebook post last month to continue his ridicule, saying Kerry’s speeches were the stuff of comedy.
“After his tenure as secretary of state he is assured a prosperous career as a stand-up comic in one of the clubs of Kansas City, Mosul, or the Holot detention center,” he wrote, according to a Kosher Press translation.
3. When he suggested sending the Israeli president into Islamic State territory.
In a Facebook post last month, Baratz described Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as a completely marginal figure.
“I think it says a lot that the president flies in economy class, goes around the plane and shakes hands with everyone,” Baratz wrote, according to a The Times Of Israel translation. “In particular it says that he’s such a peripheral figure that there’s no concern for his life.”
He then suggested putting Rivlin in a paraglider and sending him into Islamic State-controlled Syria.
“A day later they would return him with the desire to open negotiations to return immediately to Iraq,” he wrote. “Just take him, upon our lives, Israelis, your president goes around the camp shaking everyone’s hands, trying to speak to us in Arabic he doesn’t know, tells us to unite because it’s a shame we are divided thus into tribes.”
4. When he endorsed Netanyahu’s controversial claims that it was a Palestinian who instigated the Holocaust.
Netanyahu said last month that it was Haj Amin al-Husseini, the chief Islamic cleric in Jerusalem, or mufti, who convinced Hitler to exterminate the Jews. Baratz defended the prime minister on Facebook.
“You are better off, nation of Israel, with a prime minister who believes fervently in all his heart that the Mufti persuaded Hitler to exterminate the Jews than with one who thinks ― and even for a split second, daydream ― that it is possible not to live here ‘by our sword,’” he wrote. “The Left will blame Netanyahu for denying the Holocaust, but [those on the Left] do not hesitate to prove they are still mired in a denial of reality, history, common sense and human nature.”
Baratz lashed out at American Jews in 2012 for widely supporting Obama at the polls, The Jerusalem Post reported.
“The Jews have once again voted for Obama by a wide majority, and this just shows how wide the gap has become between the Jews of Israel and the Jews of the US,” he wrote in his publication, according to the Post’s translation.
“The Jews in America who see Obama as pro-Israeli are the most extreme in their criticism of Israel,” he wrote. “The irresponsible Israeli policy which they seek raises the question of how exactly they can define themselves as pro-Israel.”