Yair Netanyahu compares Israeli media to Nazi filmmaker Riefenstahl

Journalists condemn tweet by prime minister’s son, who has a history of posting incendiary content on social media

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Adolf Hitler and Leni Riefenstahl during the 1934 filming of 'Triumph of the Will' (public domain)
Adolf Hitler and Leni Riefenstahl during the 1934 filming of 'Triumph of the Will' (public domain)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair compared journalists to a Nazi propagandist on Thursday evening, tweeting that the Third Reich’s filmmaker “Leni Riefenstahl could learn a lot from the Israeli media.”

Riefenstahl was close to Adolf Hitler and directed a number of Nazi propaganda films, including the infamous “Triumph of the Will,” which debuted in 1935.

Israeli journalists swiftly condemned the comparison.

“As a journalist and son of a Holocaust survivor, I am shocked by the comparison,” tweeted Maariv’s Knesset reporter Arik Bender.

Screen capture from video of Yair Netanyahu during an interview with Blaze TV broadcast on June 11, 2019. (YouTube)

Challenged by Uriah Canaff, the deputy editor of Haaretz’s weekend magazine, Yair Netanyahu replied that he should “ask your bosses at Dumont Schauberg. They know something or two about about Nazi propaganda.”

German publishing house Dumont Schauberg, which supported the rise of the Nazi party through its Kölnische Zeitung newspaper, has a 25 percent interest in Haaretz.

The prime minister and his elder son are both harsh critics of the Israeli media, which the senior Netanyahu has accused of spreading “fake news.” Netanyahu has also accused the press of participating in a “witch hunt” against him alongside the left and law enforcement agencies.

Netanyahu and his supporters have intensified their rhetoric in recent days following last week’s announcement by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit that he will indict the prime minister on bribery in one case, and fraud and breach of trust charges in three cases, two of which involve attempts to reach a quid pro quo with the owners of Israeli media outlets in order to receive more positive coverage.

Critics have accused Netanyahu of incitement against law enforcement and the press. On Tuesday evening at a rally called to “stop the coup” against Netanyahu, his supporters verbally and physically attacked a number of journalists.

The prime minister on Wednesday downplayed the incidents of harassment but urged his supporters to eschew violence.

“Media outlets will always take individual cases out of the thousands that were there to delegitimize you, as opposed to completely ignoring far more serious cases in left-wing demonstrations,” the prime minister said in a video. “That being said, I have one request: It’s important to act responsibly, within the law, without over-zealousness and without violence. We respect the law and we respect the courts. I’m sure that justice and truth will come to light.”

Screenshot of a cartoon, featuring George Soros, posted by Yair Netanyahu, son of Israel’s prime minister, September 8, 2017. (Facebook)

Yair Netanyahu has a history of posting incendiary messages on social media, including one that appeared to perpetrate an anti-Semitic trope about Hungarian-born Jewish financier George Soros secretly controlling the world.

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