After their husbands praised the “unbreakable bond” between Israel and the US at the welcome ceremony for US President Donald Trump, Sara Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, told US First Lady Melania Trump that the two couples had more in common than pure geopolitical interests.
Chatting candidly on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport on Monday, Sara Netanyahu said that, like the Trumps, Israel’s “first couple” had been treated unfairly by the media but were loved by the people.
“You know in Israel all the people like us. The media hate us but the people love us,” Netanyahu told the first lady in a recording that picked up their private conversation. “Like you.”
“We have a lot in common,” Trump replied. Netanyahu, with a broad smile on her face, promised to continue the discussion “over dinner.”
Minutes earlier, Donald Trump arrived in Israel for his first visit to the Jewish state, saying his trip marked “a rare opportunity” to bring peace to the region.
“We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region and to its people, defeating terrorism and creating a future of harmony prosperity and peace,” he said. “But we can only get there working together. There is no other way. Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, I look forward to working with both of you during my stay.”
Netanyahu, in his own public statement, noted that Trump’s visit to Israel was the first time a US president ever arrived in the Jewish state while on his inaugural trip abroad, calling it a “powerful expression of [Trump’s] friendship to Israel” and a sign of the strong ties between the two countries.
“I’m confident that under your leadership the remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States will become ever greater, ever stronger,” the prime minister said.
Both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump have had famously acerbic relationships with the media, describing critical stories as “witch hunts” and dismissing some journalists as biased against them.
Trump has regularly taken aim at the media, declaring just last week that “no politician in history” had been treated “more unfairly” than he was being treated over rumors of collusion with Russia by his campaign team and ongoing criticism of his administration’s handling of several key scandals.
“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately. Especially by the media. No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down,” he said during a ceremony at the White House.
He regularly tweets about the “failing New York Times” and “fake news CNN” and has, in one tweet, decried the media as the “enemy of the people.”
Netanyahu has also repeatedly tried to curb his many detractors in the media, which he considers biased against him and whose numerous investigations have thus far failed to land him in any significant legal or political peril.
He has forgone press conferences and interviews, and has tried to reshape the media landscape in Israel. Like Trump, he has taken to social media to lambaste the press.
He recently pushed to have the state-run Israel Broadcasting Authority shut down and replaced with a new corporation, only to reverse course once the emerging personnel of the new body did not seem favorable enough to him.
Netanyahu, like Trump, has also lashed out at specific reporters. He took one newsman to court for reporting that Sara Netanyahu kicked her husband out of the car on a busy highway in a fit of rage. Last year, after acclaimed investigative TV journalist Ilana Dayan reported on mistreatment of the prime minister’s staff, she read a 6-minute rebuke from Netanyahu on the air in which he called her a “left-wing extremist” and slammed her credentials.
On Monday evening, after a visit by the Trumps to Jerusalem’s Old City, the Netanyahus will host the Trumps at the Prime Minister’s Residence for a private dinner, closed to the press.