WASHINGTON (JTA) — Benjamin Netanyahu quickly tried to deny a report that he called top Obama administration officials "self-hating Jews," Israel’s U.S. ambassador said.
Michael Oren said the Israeli prime minister asked him immediately to reach out to David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel to reassure them he had not used the term.
"He was furious," Oren said Friday in describing Netanyahu’s reaction last month after Ha’aretz reported that he used the term to describe Axelrod, Obama’s top political adviser, and Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff.
Oren said Emanuel and Obama accepted Netanyahu’s unequivocal denial.
Speaking in a pre-Rosh Hashanah interview with the Jewish media, Oren said he is frustrated that the report refuses to die, having resurfaced twice in recent weeks in The New York Times.
"It’s like the end of ‘Fatal Attraction,’ " said Oren, who was appointed in June. "It keeps coming back."
Equally as frustrating, he said, were reports that he was "summoned" twice to the State Department over differences on settlement policy. In both cases, Oren said, the differences were relayed in routine conversations, one time over the phone. "Summoning" an ambassador implies a crisis in relations, and U.S.-Israel relations are thriving, Oren said.
He said he was working closely with State Department officials to tamp down such reports.
"We are together working to dispel any attempt to fabricate any sense of crisis," Oren said.
A State Department spokesman did not return a call.