This article is from the archive of our partner .

It sounds like a laughable question but last night, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the editor of The Jerusalem Post that the two main enemies facing Israel are The New York Times and Israeli newspaper Haaretz. In short time, the prime minister's office issued a statement Thursday rejecting the claim, noting that "Iran and its extensions" were the country's greatest adversaries. However, in a statement to The Atlantic Wire, Jerusalem Post editor Steve Linde says the gist of what JTA reported was accurate. "Yes ... it's my interpretation of what the PM was saying," Linde said, noting that the exact phrasing wasn't precise because he "didn't record him." 

That phrasing comes from an address Linde gave on Wednesday at the Women's International Zionist Organization. JTA obtained a recording of Linde's remarks in which Linde described a private meeting two weeks ago at Netanyahu's office in Tel Aviv.

"He said, ‘You know, Steve, we have two main enemies,’ ” Linde had said on Wednesday ... “And I thought he was going to talk about, you know, Iran, maybe Hamas. He said, ‘It’s The New York Times and Haaretz.’ He said, ‘They set the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world. Journalists read them every morning and base their news stories … on what they read in The New York Times and Haaretz.’ ”

Practically speaking, few would consider the Grey Lady a top strategic threat to the Jewish state so it makes sense that the quote was disavowed by the prime minister's office. Still, it's an instance that draws into focus Netanyahu's antipathy for the U.S. newspaper, which isn't a new development.
In December, Netanyahu rebuffed an invitation by the Times to write an op-ed for the newspaper with a "scathing" response from his top aide Ron Dermer who called the op-ed page an unworthy venue for the prime minister. 

"It would seem as if the surest way to get an Op-Ed published in The New York Times these days, no matter how obscure the writer or the viewpoint, is to attack Israel," he said. The letter included a systematic breakdown of the Times' columns on Israel:

Not to be accused of cherry-picking to prove a point, I discovered that during the last three months (September through November) you published 20 op-eds about Israel in the New York Times and International Herald Tribune.   After dividing the op-eds into two categories, “positive” and “negative,” with “negative” meaning an attack against the State of Israel or the policies of its democratically elected government, I found that 19 out of 20 columns were “negative.”

The letter, which you can read in full here, constituted the first volley against the Times. The leak, constituted the second. As Ynet notes, "The letter was not meant only for the eyes of the recipient, of course. The Prime Minister’s Office quickly leaked it to the Jerusalem Post, a newspaper whose website is read by many US Jews."
When reached for a comment, a Times spokesperson said "While we don’t have a comment on the specific accusation (or non-accusation) made here, The New York Times covers Israel thoroughly and impartially." 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to