After tape of irate wife leaks, Netanyahu tells media to back off
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After tape of irate wife leaks, Netanyahu tells media to back off

PM says journalists willing to 'shed blood' of his family after uncomplimentary recordings of Sara and son Yair are published in past month

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and his wife Sara Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 28, 2017. (Olivier Fitoussi/Pool)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and his wife Sara Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 28, 2017. (Olivier Fitoussi/Pool)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted the press on Monday and angrily  told journalists to “leave my family alone,” following the broadcast of a 2009 audiotape in which his wife, Sara Netanyahu, can be heard screaming at an adviser over a publication she viewed as unflattering.

In a post on Facebook, his preferred platform for criticism of the Israeli press over perceived grievances against him, as well as a video published on Twitter, Netanyahu defended his wife’s behavior.

“Everyone gets angry,” he said, charging there was no justification for publishing the “secret recording.”

While the Netanyahu family said Sunday, immediately after the tape was broadcast by Walla news, that it was the victim of a “nasty defamation campaign,” the prime minister’s post went a step further, claiming that when it comes to his family, the media was willing “to shed their blood” in an attempt to try and bring him down.

“There is no value in these tapes. It is only a continuation of the campaign of slander against me and my family,” Netanyahu wrote. “I’ve already told you more than once: You want to replace me? Deal with me at the ballot box. Leave my family alone.”

In the 2009 recording, Sara Netanyahu is heard speaking to one of the family’s top advisers about an item published about her in a gossip column (the particular media platform is not identified).

Walla news noted that the tiny 44-word piece was complimentary to Netanyahu, saying that she had recently decided to lend a hand to a fundraising event at her children’s school. However, the brief story apparently raised her ire because it did not mention that she was a psychologist, and contained a passage stating that “the title of prime minister’s wife brings with it an obligation of civic involvement.”

In the tape Netanyahu can be heard doing a mock imitation of the media to the unidentified adviser: “‘Darfur refugees need help.'” She then exclaims: “I do that! As a professional woman, as an ed-u-ca-ted woman! A psy-cho-lo-gist!”

She goes on to shout out her academic achievements: “BA! MA! That’s it!”

Netanyahu demands to know if the editor of the piece will be getting a reprimand from the adviser. “Besides, this phrasing: ‘The prime minister’s wife (title) brings with it an obligation for civic involvement.’

“Why? Why?” she asks, before screaming: “This prime minister’s wife does civic work every day! In her professional work!” This is followed by further unintelligible shouting.

The (Hebrew) recording can be heard here:

Benjamin Netanyahu — who recently was forced to deal with an embarrassing recording in which his son Yair can be heard making disparaging comments about women during a night out at Tel Aviv strip joints — said that the latest recording to be broadcast represented a “new low” by the Israeli press in attacking his family.

“If you were to bring a recording of another woman or another family to the media, the media would say, ‘Forget it, we are not publishing it, it’s private,'” the prime minister wrote. “But when it comes to my family, my wife, my children, everything is permitted. They shed their blood.”

“They trample on a basic right that everyone has: the right to privacy,” he said of the media.

Sara Netanyahu has often been in the news over allegations of mistreatment and abusive behavior toward employees. One, Menny Naftali, a former caretaker at the prime minister’s official residence, was awarded NIS 170,000 in compensation (about $43,735) in 2016 for mistreatment while he was working there. Another, Shira Raban, recently filed a lawsuit over similar claims.

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