Netanyahu’s son mocks ex-police chief as autistic Tony Soprano
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Netanyahu’s son mocks ex-police chief as autistic Tony Soprano

In latest onslaught against law enforcement in wake of fresh indictment recommendations against PM, Yair Netanyahu compares commissioner to TV don, Rain Man

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is seen in Tel Aviv on November 26, 2017. (Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is seen in Tel Aviv on November 26, 2017. (Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair mocked Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich, who oversaw the investigations that concluded in indictment recommendations for his father, comparing the outgoing commissioner to a mafioso and someone with autism.

“Alsheich is a cross between Tony Soprano and Rain Man,” Netanyahu Junior wrote (in Hebrew) on Facebook on Monday.

The quip likened Alsheich to mobster Tony Soprano, played by the late James Gandolfini in the HBO series “The Sopranos,” and Dustin Hoffman’s character Raymond Babbit in the 1988 US movie about an autistic savant with social interaction issues.

The apparent joke, one of many controversial posts published by the prime minister’s son, came in response to the police’s conclusion, published Sunday, that there was enough evidence to bring Netanyahu to trial on charges of accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust and fraudulently accepting benefits in the co-called Bezeq probe.

It was the third case in which police have recommended bribery charges against the prime minister. They also recommended that his wife, Sara, stand trial in the case, along with the owner of the Bezeq telecom company, his wife, and others.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a welcoming ceremony for Alsheich at the start of his term, at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, December 3, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

Earlier Monday, coalition chairman David Amsalem lambasted Alsheich as “evil,” accusing the ex-top cop of trying to orchestrate a “coup” against the prime minister.

“I have not seen so much evil, cruelty and ingratitude packed into one person as [in the case of] Alsheich,” David Amsalem told Hadashot TV news.

The police recommendations were handed down on the final day of Alsheich’s tenure as police chief, prompting accusations from Netanyahu and Likud officials that the timing of their publication was carefully planned.

In a statement Sunday responding to the latest recommendations, Netanyahu’s office said they “don’t surprise anyone, nor does the transparent timing of their publication.”

“The witch-hunt against us continues,” Netanyahu told a crowd of Likud supporters later that day in a blistering speech at the party’s official Hanukkah lighting ceremony in Tel Aviv. The investigation, he claimed, was biased and “skewed from the start… A year ago, before even opening the investigations,” he charged of the police, “they decided what the outcome would be and leaked their conclusions.”

“This is persecution by the Israel Police; this is a real coup,” Amsalem said Monday, joining a long list of Netanyahu loyalists in the Likud party who have slammed Alsheich’s handling of the criminal investigations into the prime minister.

Pressed as to why Netanyahu had the right to complain of bias given that he had appointed the police chief, Amsalem responded, “Not everyone you appoint turns out to be a decent and honest man and that’s what happened to us with Alsheich.”

Earlier this year, police recommended that Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in two other corruption cases, designated 1000 and 2000. The following month, Netanyahu said that law enforcement officials were being pressured to pursue criminal investigations against him. He has since railed at Alsheich, accusing him of leaking information to the press and of conducting a “witch hunt” against him and his family.

Investigators have now concluded that the prime minister advanced regulatory decisions benefiting Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in Bezeq, the country’s largest telecommunications firm — despite opposition from the Communication Ministry’s career officials — in exchange for positive coverage of him from Elovitch’s Walla news site. At the time, the prime minister was also serving as acting communications minister.

In their Sunday statement, police specifically noted that the investigation had not found enough evidence to charge Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu’s son, Yair Netanyahu, who was questioned a number of times during the investigation.

Yair Netanyahu has been at the center of a number of scandals over the years, including for his social media activity. He’s been in hot water for contentious social media posts often attacking his and his family’s detractors.

Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court, on June 5, 2018. (Flash90)

Last year, he was criticized for posting a cartoon that appeared to adopt anti-Semitic themes to take aim at his parents’ critics, including former prime minister Ehud Barak, lawyer and Labor party activist Eldad Yaniv, and Menny Naftali — a former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence who is at the heart of allegations of wrongdoing over which Sara Netanyahu is facing indictment.

Yair Netanyahu has also previously made international waves by saying in a post that American left-wing groups were more dangerous than neo-Nazis, following deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a far-right march, and US President Donald Trump’s controversial statements that “both sides were to blame” for the violence.

Earlier this year, recordings were leaked of him making disparaging comments about women during a night of excess at a series of Tel Aviv strip clubs, which may explain his apparent fondness for “The Sopranos,” much of which is set in the mob’s Bada Bing strip club in New Jersey.

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