Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu graced the cover of Time magazine that hit
newsstands on Thursday, a week after the magazine made headlines with a
provocative cover of a woman breastfeeding her three-year old son.
Bibi,” read the cover headline, featuring a blackand- white close-up photo of an
intense, unsmiling Netanyahu staring straight into the camera.
conquered Israel. But will Netanyahu now make peace – or war?” The
matter-of-fact article, written by managing editor Richard Stengel, marks the
37th occasion Israel has been on Time’s cover in the magazine’s 89-year
This piece, which describes the prime minister’s worldview and
how he sees Iran and the Palestinian diplomatic process, will likely generate
much less criticism among pro-Israel readers than the magazine’s two previous
cover stories on Israel: The September 13, 2010, cover titled “Why Israel
Doesn’t Care About Peace,” and the January 19, 2009, cover titled “Why Israel
Netanyahu, the magazine wrote when talking about the
political “thunderstroke” that brought Kadima into the coalition, “is poised to
become the longest-serving Israeli prime minister since David Ben-Gurion, the
founding father of Israel.”
“At a moment when incumbents around the world
are being shunted aside, he is triumphant,” the piece read.
according to the story, the world will find out if Netanyahu “is a statesman or
a pol, a builder or a general, the Israeli leader who can finally make peace
with the Palestinians or the one who launches a potentially disastrous
unilateral attack on Iran.”
While there will be those taking issue with
the way Stengel sets up these choices and his narrative of the Palestinian
diplomatic process, no one can argue with how accurately he describes
Netanyahu’s physical surroundings.
Referring to the Prime Minister’s
Residence in Jerusalem, Stengel wrote, “The White House this isn’t. It’s an
unmemorable modern building in a busy part of the city.
Inside, one walks
along paths that have not been swept, past unfinished construction and gardens
that look untended.
We sit in the courtyard outside his study, which has
a naked concrete floor, some rickety chairs and an old couch. When Bibi signals
that he’s hot, a worker silently rolls out a creaky shoulder-height rotating fan
that she places right behind his head. It is the opposite of
Netanyahu discussed his relationship with the presumptive
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, disputing the impression left by
a recent New York Times piece that the two have a “warm friendship little known
to outsiders” stretching back decades that was “nurtured over meals in Boston,
New York and Jerusalem.”
“It was at Boston Consulting [Group] that he met
Mitt Romney,” Stengel wrote. “‘We did not know each other that well,’ Bibi says.
‘He was the whiz kid. I was just in the back of the room.’” In actuality, the
article says, Netanyahu has seen Romney only a handful of times over the years
and only once this year – when they spoke for 10 minutes during his visit to
Washington in March, mainly about Iran.
Netanyahu was asked about the
cover and Time’s appellation “King Bibi” during a press conference Thursday in
Prague. “I can tell you one thing,” he quipped, “Israel will remain a democracy,
not become a monarchy.”
This was the second time Netanyahu had the weekly
news magazine’s cover all to himself, the first time being on June 10, 1996,
after he was elected prime minister for the first time. Then the headline was,
“Can He Make Peace?” Last month a small portrait of him appeared in a collage on
Time’s cover of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”