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July 05, 1996 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-05

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BIBI page 43




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44 vow() vow() vow() -vow()



tag like "Bibi." Mr. Netanyahu Who knows? Even though there
didn't even have to pay a public is no reference to it in the Bible,
relations pro to think it up. Ac- maybe even a few Israelites
cording to Netanyahu family called their great King "Dov" —
lore, it stems from childhood the Hebrew equivalent of "Dave"
though probably not to his
confusion with another older
Benjamin who was the big BB face.
But has there ever been as
while the future prime minister
good a nickname as Prime Min-
was the little Bibi.
Of course, nicknames can be ister Binyamin Netanyahu's
a double-edged sword for politi- "Bibi?" It is short, colorful, po-
cians. A good nickname can be litically neutral and a writer's
delight. Its two-syllable
a political advantage. It
length also allows his
was hard to resist pulling
most ardent supporters
the lever for "The Gip-
per," as President Ronald Netanyahu laughs to serenade him with
with a group of
Reagan was affectionate- supporters during the "Bibi, King of Is-
rael" song, into which
ly called. On the other
a rally.
"Mr. Netanyahu"
hand, unwillingness to
would definitely not fit.
buy a used car from a
man called "Tricky Dick" may It also helped this product of Is-
have led to Richard Nixon's rael's most elite military unit
and one of America's elite uni-
downfall .
Other names are mixed bless- versities convince the Israeli in
ings, such as Britain's Margaret the street that he was one of
Thatcher's appellation, "The them.
Iron Lady." It conveyed strength
What lies behind this deci-
and resolve to those who sup- sion? The prime minister may
ported her while it conjured up believe being called "Bibi" shows
a medieval instrument of tor- disrespect, as if making every-
ture for her detractors.
one call him "Mr." will increase
Acronyms such as TR, FDR, the government's prestige. But
JFK and LBJ were good luck to since when did Israeli politics
both Roosevelts, John Fitzger- and journalism look to Miss
ald Kennedy and Lyndon Manners for guidance?
Baines Johnson. They also
Mr. Binyamin Netanyahu's
helped headline writers who success in office will depend on
dread long names.
the strength of his character, in-
Nicknames also break down tellect and political skills. I hap-
the formal distance between the pen to think he will do just fine
electorate and their leaders. The leading Israel whether anyone
last two Democratic presidents calls him "Bibi," BN, his excel-
have insisted on being called lency, the prime minister or
"Jimmy" and "Bill," no doubt to "late for dinner." And sticking
lend credence to their "man of to formality will not convince his
the people" pose. A nickname critics that he is on the right
gives you a chance to talk as if track. -
you actually knew the person
Mr. Netanyahu's staff should
who leads your country.
forget about the formality and
It is also useful to monarchies. make good use of his moniker. ❑
16th-century Englishmen re-
ferred to their sovereign as Jonathan S. Tobin is executive
"Bess." The soon-to-be ex-wife editor of the Connecticut
of England's current heir Jewish Ledger.
zoomed to popularity as "Di."

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