Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s eldest son Yair apologized on Monday after facing a flurry of angry responses from Hindus who found one of his tweets to be offensive.
“I’ve tweeted a meme from a satirical page, critizing (sic) political figures in Israel. I didn’t realize the meme also portrayed an image conected (sic) to the majestic Hindu faith. As soon as I realized it from comments of our Indian friends, I have removed the tweet. I apologize,” Netanyahu wrote.
On Sunday he had posted a picture of the Hindu goddess Durga, with the face of Liat Ben Ari, the prosecutor in his father’s corruption cases, superimposed over the goddess’s face. Her many arms were also raised giving the middle finger.
Attorney General Avichai Mandelbit’s face was superimposed over that of a tiger accompanying the goddess under a caption that said: “Know your place you despicable people.”
הצייצן הבטלן עשה עכשיו שריפה גם עם ההודים, ומתנצל. pic.twitter.com/tUeuMv5sCc
— Ben Caspit בן כספית (@BenCaspit) July 27, 2020
The prime minister’s trial on charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes opened in May in a Jerusalem court. Netanyahu has said he is the victim of a wide-ranging conspiracy and called the allegations baseless.
The prime minister has made strengthening Israel’s ties with India, and his close connection to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, one of his key foreign policy goals and he would have been anxious not to have his diplomatic efforts upended by his son, who has a long history of causing spats on social media.
Earlier this month Yair Netanyahu issued an apology to journalist Dana Weiss for appearing to suggest the top news anchor had attained her position through sexual favors.
His apology was then shared by his father.
In May, the Channel 12 news diplomatic correspondent and anchor announced she would sue him for defamation for the offensive tweets, which the premier’s son then scoffed at in further social media posts.
Netanyahu has frequently generated controversy in recent years with his social media posts.
He was accused of employing similar tactics in the past to shame a female supporter of Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz.
In 2017, he drew international condemnation after attacking critics of his parents with a cartoon that employed anti-Semitic tropes.
He has also used social media to call a police chief autistic, and to accuse the president and Knesset speaker of plotting a coup, and has become embroiled in a number of libel suits, both as defendant and complainant.
In March, a judge ordered Netanyahu to pay NIS 250,000 after he failed to respond to a libel suit brought against him by a former Walla news site editor over a retweet with an incendiary allegation. He has petitioned the ruling.