Netanyahu mocked after taking legal battle to Instagram
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Netanyahu mocked after taking legal battle to Instagram

PM likens ‘bribery without money’ to soccer without Messi and Kim without Kanye; unimpressed users point out that by law, ‘bribery without money is… still bribery’

In this photo from December 23, 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool via AP, File)
In this photo from December 23, 2018, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. (Ronen Zvulun/Pool via AP, File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to appeal to the younger generation in his election campaign Monday night, inviting his social media followers to read and respond to an Instagram story he posted that made light of the bribery charges police have recommended be brought against him in three cases.

“Bribery without money is like… an omelette without an egg,” the story on Netanyahu’s page said. “Send me more strange ideas like this!”

He later posted many more similar stories, likening bribery without money to soccer without Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, Kim Kardashian without Kanye West, Rachel from “Friends” without Ross, Coke without CO₂, the popular online video game Fortnite without lags, Ben Gurion Airport without ads featuring model Bar Refaeli, and Knesset elections without Netanyahu’s Likud party.

The concept played off a claim made by Netanyahu on live television earlier in the evening that the main allegation in Case 4000 — that he was bribed by businessman Shaul Elovitch in the form of favorable media coverage in his Walla website in exchange for valuable regulatory benefits — was absurd since there was no money involved.

The prime minister has long accused police, the media and the political left of pushing a conspiracy against him, in that case as well as in the two others against him.

An Instagram story posted on January 7, 2019 on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s page, saying “bribery without money is like soccer without [Lionel] Messi. God forbid!” (Screenshot: Instagram)
The 69-year-old Netanyahu was mocked on Twitter for inviting his followers to send him suggestions while using language typical of Israeli teenagers.

He was also criticized for the content of the posts, with many — including the former head of the Meretz opposition party — pointing out that Israeli law doesn’t limit bribery to just money payments.

“The defendant Netanyahu asked so I went to check the Penal Law,” Zehava Galon tweeted, attaching a screenshot of the legislation. “Bribery without money is… still bribery.”

Israeli law says bribery can come in the form of money, items worth money, actions benefiting or discriminating against someone or abstention from, speeding up of or slowing down of such actions.

An Instagram story posted on January 7, 2019 on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s page, saying “bribery without money is like Kim [Kardashian] without Kanye [West].” (Screenshot: Instagram)
As is common on social media, the parodies were quick to pour in.

MK Merav Michaeli of the Labor opposition party, opened her own Instagram story, saying that “a prime minister with an indictment is like” a sock with a hole, a car on a highway with a flat tire, coffee with salt and a watermelon with sand.

Other Twitter users reacted by making fun of a Likud statement Monday that promised a “dramatic announcement” by Netanyahu on prime time TV — leading to hours of speculation on what it would be — only for him to let down many viewers by saying police had refused his demand to confront state witnesses who have testified against him in the graft probes and reiterating that demand for a confrontation, “as far as I’m concerned, on live TV.”

“Bribery without money is like a dramatic announcement without drama,” they wrote.

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