'King Bibi' graces cover of TIME Magazine

Influential magazine says: "He's conquered Israel. But will Netanyahu now make peace – or war?"

By
May 17, 2012 20:17
3 minute read.
Binyamin Netanyahu on the cover of 'Time'

Binyamin Netanyahu TIME cover 370. (photo credit: 'Time' Magazine)

 
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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.

“King Bibi,” read the cover headline, featuring a blackand- white close-up photo of an intense, unsmiling Netanyahu staring straight into the camera.

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“He’s 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 history.

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 Can’t Win.”

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.

Now, 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 formal.”

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.”

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