Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu marked International Women’s Day on Thursday not only by thanking the women of Israel for their contribution, and declaring that great strides had been made towards gender equality, but by heaping praise on his wife, Sara.
“On this day, before everything else, I embrace the woman in my life — my beloved wife, Sara,” he wrote on Facebook.
“She devotes all of her life to our family, she is the rock of our lives. Beyond that, she also gives of herself to bereaved families, children suffering from cancer, elderly people and Holocaust survivors, battered women and lone soldiers.
“She does this in parallel to her work as a child psychologist in the public sector.”
Netanyahu then went on to attack the media for responding to her multiple activities with “malicious and ridiculous slurs.”
ביום האישה הבינלאומי, אני רוצה להודות לכן – נשות ישראל. לפורצות הדרך, למנפצות תקרות הזכוכית, לכולכן – על כל מה שאתן עושו…
“But many, many of you know the truth about her and give her love, respect and fantastic support,” he said.
Sara Netanyahu’s media image in Israel is, indeed, poor, thanks in part to successful lawsuits brought against her by former employees for abusive behavior; suspicions that she diverted a total of some NIS 360,000 ($102,000) in public funds for private use, for which an indictment against her has been drafted; and allegations of involvement in corruption.
In so-called Case 1000, for which the police have recommended indicting the prime minister, she and her husband are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Milchan and Australian resort owner Packer.
In return, Netanyahu is alleged by police to have intervened on Milchan’s behalf in matters relating to legislation, business dealings, and visa arrangements.
In Case 4000, the prime minister is suspected — during his stint as communications minister — of having advanced regulations to benefit Shaul Elovitch, the majority shareholder in the Bezek telecommunications company, in return for Elovitch ordering the Walla news site, which he owns, to give the Netanyahus positive coverage.
Over recent weeks, Israeli media has reported on the content of WhatsApp messages between Sara Netanyahu and Shaul Elovitch’s wife, Iris, in which the prime minister’s wife demands to know why a certain Walla editor has not been fired and lashes the website’s coverage, ordering that improvements be made.
Channel 10 reported earlier this month that police also possess messages between the two women that relate to the benefits extended to Bezeq — the payback that the prime minister is suspected of having given Elovitch in return for positive coverage by Walla.
Last Friday, police grilled both Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu, separately, over the Bezek corruption probe. Sara was interrogated for five hours at the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit’s headquarters in Lod while the prime minister was questioned at his official residence in Jerusalem.
Both Netanyahus deny any wrongdoing.
Sara Netanyahu is the prime minister’s third wife. The couple have two grown up sons.