PM’s son sues activist who accosted him, called father ‘corrupt thief’

PM’s son sues activist who accosted him, called father ‘corrupt thief’

Barak Cohen had filmed himself harassing Avner Netanyahu, who was eating at a restaurant in Tel Aviv

Self-described activist Barak Cohen (R) filming himself harassing Avner Netanyahu, July 27, 2019. (Screenshot: Twitter)
Self-described activist Barak Cohen (R) filming himself harassing Avner Netanyahu, July 27, 2019. (Screenshot: Twitter)

Avner Netanyahu, the prime minister’s younger son, filed a police complaint on Sunday against a self-described anti-corruption activist who had harassed him a day earlier.

Barak Cohen — who in May drew outrage when he filmed himself accosting billionaire Sheldon Adelson and telling him “you live too long” — on Saturday uploaded a social media video showing him approaching the 24-year-old Netanyahu, and swearing at him. The premier’s son was eating at a restaurant in Tel Aviv.

“We ran into Avner Netanyahu, the son of the weak, corrupt [man],” he shouts in the two-minute clip, before getting closer. “A family of thieves, your dad is a corrupt thief, you should go away. What about daddy’s thefts? How much did he steal in the end? How much was the bribery he received?”

That was a reference to three corruption cases in which charges have been announced against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pending a hearing. One of the cases involves bribery charges.

Cohen, a left-wing lawyer who was suspended by the Israeli bar association in 2017 for harassing banking executives, then spoke about the premier’s older son, Yair, who has been reported in the past to have visited strip clubs, and who last week celebrated his 28th birthday.

“Were you at the party of your brother, the client of prostitutes? You and he get a driver, a security guard, what else do you get from the state? How much do you get?”

(From L-R) Avner, Sara, Benjamin and Yair Netanyahu tour the Golan Heights on April 23, 2019. (PMO)

On Sunday, Avner Netanyahu said on Facebook that he had filed a harassment complaint against Cohen over the incident.

“Time after time, he has followed me, come to where I was and started filming and cursing me,” he wrote. “There is a way to have political debates — thuggery and harassment of uninvolved citizens is definitely not the way.”

Cohen’s clip was met with unanimous criticism from politicians and public figures from across the political spectrum.

In May, Cohen filmed himself confronting Adelson, a Jewish casino magnate and major donor to conservative causes in the United States and Israel, in Tel Aviv.

In a video of the incident, Adelson, 85, was seen in a mobility scooter in the background flanked by two men and another younger man, who appeared to be a bodyguard. Cohen then shouted the same sentence in English at Adelson’s direction, prompting the younger man to walk slowly in his direction.

“Stop interrupt in our lives,” Cohen shouted in broken English. “You know what is maniak? You are maniak.” In Hebrew, the word is equivalent to “asshole” in English.

When the younger man touched Cohen, the heckler told him to stop touching him. The younger man then asked Cohen: “Be respectful of an elderly person.” Cohen replied: “He’s destroying our lives. Hand off. You hit, you murder. Hands off.” He continued to curse Adelson, adding, “You live too long.”

Adelson owns the conservative Israel Hayom newspaper, which has long been seen as especially supportive of Netanyahu. Adelson is also a top donor to US President Donald Trump and the Republican party.

Cohen has in recent months also harassed other right-wing figures, such as Yair Netanyahu and Culture Minister Miri Regev.

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