Obama in Rose Garden
Obama in Rose Garden Reuters

“The latest loony idea spreading through the ranks of the anti-Israel left is that (Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu threatened to kill (US President Barack) Obama by talking about lawns,” writes Daniel Greenfield in FrontPage Magazine.

Greenfield cites blogger Justin Raimondo, who claimed that Netanyahu recently said:

“When there are pressures on Israel to concede its security, the easiest thing to do is to concede. You get a round of applause, ceremonies on grassy knolls, and then come the missiles and the tunnels.”

Raimondo, referencing the assassination of former US President John F. Kennedy, went on to theorize thus:

“Bibi, who spent many years in the United States, is surely cognizant of what his 'grassy knoll' reference connotes.You can argue it was just an infelicitous phrase, or that Bibi was referring to himself, not Obama. Maybe so. But what if, say, an Iranian official, even a low-ranking one, had said such a thing? The uproar would be deafening. And so the question must be asked: was Bibi threatening the President of the United States?”

He added: “As we’ve seen recently, the White House isn’t exactly an impregnable fortress. In the meantime, it’s time to start reevaluating the 'special relationship' in light of an Israeli leader who talks about the 'grassy knoll' while denouncing an American president.”

Not that "grassy knoll"

Greenfield notes that Netanyahu wasn’t referring to a grassy knoll, but to the Rose Garden ceremony where former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasser Arafat: “It’s not a subtle point since Netanyahu mentions a ceremony and applause. I don’t think the JFK assassination came with applause.”

Netanyahu was speaking in Hebrew, and the word he used – "midshaot" – usually refers to well-tended lawns.

In Mondoweiss, writer Annie Robbins insisted that the press was covering up Netanyahu’s grassy death threat: “Do you think anyone at the White House noticed Netanyahu’s phraseology? Me too. So why the silence from the press? Grassy knoll, it only means one thing here in America.”

The conspiracy theory has since moved into neo-Nazi sites, reported Greenfield.

Meanwhile, Robbins was alerted by some of the comments to her column that the word “midshaot” means “well kept lawns.” She explained that she took the phrase from the Guardian and the English-language Haaretz. Haaretz has since changed the wording in its report, from “grassy knolls” to “well-kept lawns.”