At least one Obama administration official has referred to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as "Aspergery."
The Jewish Daily Forward reports:
“The term “Aspergery” was used in a manner that is insulting to the millions of people around the world with Asperger Syndrome,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, in a press release responding to the article. “It is never OK to insult someone by referring to them by using disability in a negative manner.”
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who heads RespectAbility, an organization devoted to helping people with disabilities, wrote to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough also complaining about the use of Aspergers as a slur.
“I was really stunned that the insults from the White House used a derogatory term connected to Autism Spectrum Disorder as a way to insult PM Netanyahu,” she wrote. “As the parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum and a disability advocate, I would hope that our president, as well as you as chief of staff, will make it clear that such bullying has no place in our nation.”
The White House responded quickly and on Thursday administration officials reached out to Ruderman, telling him it was an “unfortunate misuse of language” and promising that the issue has been raised at higher levels.
“I’m glad we put this issue on the radar,” Ruderman told the Forward. “It is a perfect teaching moment to come out against using disabilities in a derogatory way.”The Times of Israel reports:
“Certainly, that’s not the administration’s view, and we think such comments are inappropriate and counterproductive,” said National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey, according to the Washington political journal The Hill. “Prime Minister Netanyahu and the president have forged an effective partnership, and consult closely and frequently, including earlier this month when the president hosted the prime minister in the Oval Office.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the statements were “disgraceful, unacceptable, and damaging.” On Friday, Kerry telephoned Netanyahu to apologize in person on behalf of the administration.