PM’s son instigated tweet that caused diplomatic spat with Mexico — report

PM’s son instigated tweet that caused diplomatic spat with Mexico — report

Yair Netanyahu said to have pressured father to post message supporting Donald Trump’s planned anti-migrant wall, against counsel of his political advisers

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)

One of the prime minister’s sons pushed his father to post a message on social media supporting US President Donald Trump’s plans for an anti-immigration wall along the US-Mexican border, despite the counsel of Benjamin Netanyahu’s political advisers, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Sunday.

The tweet, posted in January 2017, in which Netanyahu lauded Trump’s idea and boasted that a wall he had instructed be built along Israel’s southern border had stopped all illegal immigration, infuriated Mexican authorities, who called it “aggressive,” demanded an apology and summoned the Israeli ambassador for a dressing down.

The message, on Twitter, was shared some 40,000 times.

“President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border, it stopped all illegal immigration. Great success, great idea,” Netanyahu tweeted.

Yair Netanyahu denied he had been involved in the tweet, but according to the newspaper report, the evidence points to the contrary.

One source told the paper, “It was an unnecessary tweet posted despite all the advice of the professional advisers. Although it’s not criminal, it adds to other decisions Netanyahu has taken, including security ones.”

Those in the Prime Minister’s Office who opposed the tweet reportedly included Netanyahu’s then foreign policy adviser, Jonathan Schachter, bureau chief Yoav Horowitz and advisers Topaz Luck and Jonatan Urich.

Netanyahu’s expressions of support for Trump’s wall not only angered the Mexican government; it also triggered an “alarming” wave of anti-Semitism online, according to an Argentine Jewish watchdog.

A report by the Argentine Observatorio Web released in March 2017 analyzed comments in 22 online articles from the major Mexican newspapers El Universal, Excelsior and Milenio, and concluded that nearly 40 percent of the comments were anti-Semitic. The most recurrent themes were the vindication of Adolf Hitler, and the representation of Jews as avaricious usurers, guided purely by economic interest.

Some 35% of the comments were negative about the Israeli government but without anti-Semitic expression, according to the report.

“This particular case is one of the first times where we see that the criticism is directed toward” Netanyahu, Ariel Seidler, director of the Observatorio Web, told JTA.

Sunday’s report was not the first suggesting that Yair Netanyahu holds undue influence over his father.

In March, Channel 10 news reported that Nir Hefetz, a former confidant of the prime minister who has turned state’s witness in a corruption trial involving him, was set to testify to police on two security incidents in which, pressured by his wife and son, Netanyahu made decisions that contradicted the positions of his professional advisers, including the heads of Israel’s Mossad spy agency and Shin Bet internal security service.

Former media adviser to the prime minister Nir Hefetz arrives for a remand hearing in Case 4000 at the Tel Aviv District Court, February 22, 2018 (Flash90)

Hadashot news at the time said Hefetz had told associates that Yair Netanyahu wielded dramatic influence over Netanyahu, who, “inspired and influenced by his son Yair, showed national irresponsibility and made decisions that harmed Israel’s national interests and security.”

“I admire [Netanyahu],” Hefetz reportedly said, “but he’s in the thrall of his wife and son, and they wield power over him in national affairs.”

Hefetz claimed that Yair Netanyahu’s actions were what led him to leave the prime minister’s service in October of 2017.

“Yair caused damage to his father and the state. That’s why I left,” he said, according to the report.

The prime minister dismissed the claim as “nonsense.”

Yair Netanyahu has made the headlines on a number of occasions for inappropriate messages on social media.

In May, in the midst of a diplomatic spat between Israel and Turkey over Israel’s response to violent protests on the Gaza border, he shared an image saying “Fu*k Turkey” on Instagram, replacing the letter “c” with the crescent and star of the Turkish flag.

Last year Yair Netanyahu was in hot water for posting a cartoon on Facebook with references to Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, the Illuminati and reptilians.

Screenshot of the cartoon posted by Yair Netanyahu, September 8, 2017. (Facebook)

The cartoon took 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, Yair’s mother, is facing indictment.

Yair Netanyahu posted the graphic with the caption: “Food chain.”

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