Only six months after hiring him despite his disparaging statements against then-US president Barack Obama, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly seeking to replace media adviser Ran Baratz.
Channel 2 news reported Friday that the prime minister is unhappy with Baratz’s performance, blaming him for recent tensions with the Israeli press. Senior officials told Channel 2 that Baratz was responsible for rising hostilities in relations with the media and had been responsible for several personal attacks on journalists by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Baratz, senior officials told Channel 2, is “a goner” with Netanyahu, who is now seeking a replacement. However, several media specialists the PMO has contacted have so far turned down the offer.
Netanyahu nominated Baratz to become the head of the National Information Directorate on November 4, 2015. But soon after the appointment was announced, it emerged that Baratz had previously published a series of controversial Facebook posts attacking senior figures in Israel, including President Reuven Rivlin and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, and abroad. Most notably, he had called Obama “anti-Semitic,” and compared Kerry’s mental age to that of a 12-year-old. Netanyahu, who had also been at one time a target of Baratz’s caustic wit, decided to freeze his nomination.
Baratz quickly apologized for his “hurtful remarks,” arguing they were “written hastily and sometimes humorously” and vowing to express himself differently once he became a government official.
He then joined the PMO last July in a lower-level advisory capacity.
Raoul Wootliff and Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.