David Gregory Calls Benjamin Netanyahu 'The Leader of the Jewish People'

NBC's David Gregory on Sunday actually referred to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "the leader of the Jewish people."

This happened during a Meet the Press interview that included the host vociferously grilling Netanyahu about whether Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was correct when he said, “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus” (video follows with transcript and commentary):

DAVID GREGORY, HOST: Prime Minister, one more question on the American election. You have been accused this week by pundits in this country of trying to interfere in this presidential election, siding with Governor Mitt Romney. Now, Governor Romney for a year, and he said it in his convention speech, has said, quote, “President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus.” Do you agree or disagree with Governor Romney’s charge? It’s a serious charge.

ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Well, you’re-- you’re trying to get me into the-- into the American election and I’m not going to do that. The relationship between Israel and the United States is a bond of-- it’s just a very powerful bond. It was, it is, and will be and will continue to be. And I-- I can tell you there’s no one-- there’s no leader in the world who’s more appreciative than me of the strength of this alliance. It’s very strong. There’s no one in Israel who appreciates more than me the importance of American support for Israel. It’s not a partisan issue. In fact, we cherish the bipartisan support of Democrats and Republicans alike. This is critical for us.

GREGORY: But prime minister, with respect, if I may just interrupt you…

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: And-- and I think it’s critical that we take…

GREGORY: I think this is a very important point because you say you don’t want to interfere in the election. There are tens of millions of Americans who are watching that speech, who hear that rhetoric, who hear that charge, who may not understand the complexities of this issue. You are the leader of the Jewish people.

Netanyahu's "the leader of the Jewish people?" What kind of preposterous statement is that?

He's the Prime Minister of Israel NOT the leader of all Jewish people on the planet.

This error was compounded in seriousness by it being Rosh Hashanah, one of the holiest days on the Jewish calendar.

Gregory apparently realized his error, and as the Huffington Post reported, corrected himself hours later via Twitter:


Despite this correction, Gregory continued to do the White House's bidding by pestering his guest regarding Romney's comments:

GREGORY: You say this is not a partisan issue. You get billions of dollars from direct foreign investment from this country, hundreds of millions of dollars from Americans, Jews and Christians alike from this country. It seems to me for you to remain silent on whether this administration has thrown Israel under the bus is tantamount to agreeing with the sentiment. So where do you come down on that specific charge against President Obama?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: Now, there you go again, David, you’re trying to draw me into something that-- that is simply not-- not the case and it’s not my position. My position is that we-- we have strong cooperation. We’ll continue to cooperate. We’re the best of allies. And Israel is the one reliable ally of the United States in the Middle East…

GREGORY: So President Obama has not thrown Israel under the bus?

PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: …if that wasn’t understood until yesterday. So it’s-- it’s-- there’s-- there’s no bus, and we’re not going to get into that discussion, except to say one thing. We have a strong alliance and we’re going to continue to have a strong alliance. I think the important question is where does the-- the only bus that is really important is the Iranian nuclear bus. That’s the one that we have to-- to derail. And that’s my interest. That’s my-- my only interest.

Can you imagine Gregory grilling Netanyahu this way if Obama were a Republican and Romney a Democrat?

Yes, that's a rhetorical question.

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2012 Presidential Foreign Policy Iran Israel/Palestine NBC Meet the Press Video David Gregory Barack Obama Benjamin Netanyahu Mitt Romney
Noel Sheppard's picture