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Na na na na na Netanyahu: PM’s mockery of media critics goes viral

Clip from premier’s interview with Channel 12 set to music, while opponent Sa’ar seizes on the phrase: ‘For him, 5,406 dead is na na na’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives Channel 12 anchor Yonit Levy his "na na na na na" rendition during an interview on February 17 (Channel 12 screenshot)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives Channel 12 anchor Yonit Levy his "na na na na na" rendition during an interview on February 17 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mocked the media this week, saying reports on the government’s shortcomings during the pandemic were nitpicking and that reporters should instead be focusing on his successes.

During a rare interview Sunday night with Channel 12 anchor Yonit Levy, Netanyahu was asked whether the government had failed to act quickly during the pandemic, and responded with a chattering sound.

“I call it ‘na na na na na,’ let’s always look for something,” said Netanyahu, waving his arms.

“The main thing here is that we are leading the world in vaccinations, that we will exit [the pandemic] first, and I will push Israel to lead the world economically. But ‘na na na na na’ — let’s look for another point and another thing, but that’s the big picture.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives Channel 12 anchor Yonit Levy his “na na na na na” rendition during an interview on February 17 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Netanyahu then predicted the phrase would become part of a sketch on the satirical skit show “Eretz Nehederet,” and indeed the clip quickly went viral, helped along by the prime minister and his social media team in some iterations.

It was also quickly adopted by his opponents, with former ally and New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar telling Army Radio on Tuesday that the catchphrase showed that the over 5,000 dead as a result of the pandemic were just “background noise” for the prime minister.

Gideon Sa’ar, head of the New Hope political party, seen during an election campaign tour in Raanana, February 8, 2021. (Flash90)

“When you criticize him then his answer is ‘na na na,'” Saar said. “For him, 5,406 dead is ‘na na na.’ The fact that Israeli students are world leaders in sitting at home, that we import [virus] mutations through the huge breach at Ben Gurion Airport, that there’s a failure to enforce — everything is a kind of background noise that bothers him.”

As of Wednesday morning, there were 5,441 reported deaths as a result of the pandemic.

In one photo that went viral, the word “na” was written on individual gravestones.

The prime minister uttering the phrase was also, predictably, set to music.

And, predictably, it was compared to the 1969 song “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam.

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