Yair Netanyahu, the eldest son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, vents his spleen occasionally. When he does so, he reinforces the widespread belief in Israel and abroad that his opinions are not only grotesque, noxious and incendiary, but mired in the swamp of ignorance and malice.
Apparently unemployed, he has all the time in the world to pontificate on social media, his podcast and on radio stations, usually in defence of his father’s misguided policies.
In his most recent blast, he had the temerity to liken the growing protest movement in Israel against the government’s dangerous plan to overhaul the judiciary to Nazi thugs in Germany and fascist blackshirts in Italy who “carried out political terror in the streets.”
Needless to say, the comparison is obscenely false.
Without offering even a shred of evidence, he made two other skewed observations. First, the protesters have tried to set alight the Knesset, just as the Nazis attempted to burn down the Reichstag in Berlin. Second, they are attempting to overthrow the Israeli government and achieve power “through terror.”
The truth of the matter is very, very different.
The protesters have taken to the streets to exercise their democratic rights as citizens. Their laudable goals are to stop Netanyahu’s cynical gambit to concentrate power in his own hands and to derail the corruption charges that have been levelled against him by the attorney-general, whom he personally appointed.
Netanyahu’s undisguised overarching objective is clear: to weaken the Supreme Court and thus eliminate the vital system of checks and balances that are the lifeblood of Israeli democracy. If he succeeds, Israel could well degenerate into an authoritarian banana republic that brooks no real dissent and barely tolerates minorities. In addition, Netanyahu hopes that the charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud that could send him to prison will be dropped, thereby eliminating the need for him to stand trial and await a verdict.
Needless to say, Yair Netanyahu disagrees with this assessment and believes his father has been the victim of a “witch hunt,” to use the immortal and misleading words of Donald Trump. Indeed, he has condemned the prosecutors who have pressed charges against his father. He has contemptuously branded them as “treasonous” and has outrageously demanded they should face the death penalty.
No one should be surprised by his abominable verbal tactics. Since the start of the protest movement early this year, he has indulged in inflammatory outbursts.
He has accused the police force of engaging in a “rebellion” because they lawfully allowed protesters to block a major highway in Tel Aviv last week. He has claimed that the Shin Bet internal security agency is plotting to unseat his father.
His reactionary views are embarrassing. So much so that he has sometimes been compelled to delete tweets from his Twitter account and has even forced his father on occasion to distance himself from them.
Yair Netanyahu’s overall record is simply atrocious.
Facebook suspended him for a day in 2018 after he posted anti-Muslim content. He lost his job at the Israel Law Center in 2019 after criticizing a plea by Israel’s president for Arab-Jewish coexistence in Israel.
In the same year, he accused Yitzhak Rabin, the former prime minister, of having “murdered” Holocaust survivors on the Altalena. This was a gratuitous jab at a decision by Rabin, a junior Israeli army officer in 1948, to fire on a ship carrying illegal weapons to the Irgun militia in Israel.
Two years ago, a court in Tel Aviv ordered him to pay damages and legal costs after he slandered the former editor of the Walla news site.
Judging by his ill-informed and poorly articulated mouthings over the past few years, he has compiled quite a record as a loudmouth and demagogue.
His boundless obnoxiousness notwithstanding, he has apparently gained something of a following in far right-wing circles. But he should be under no illusions. If his father had been a janitor or a truck driver rather than a prime minister, no one would pay the slightest attention to him and he would be an absolute nobody.