Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair said Wednesday that he will not follow in his father’s footsteps and run for political office.
“I so admire and appreciate the sacrifice you make for the sake of the land of Israel and the people of Israel,” Netanyahu told his father at a party for the prime minister’s 68th birthday, “As someone who will never go into politics, it’s an amazing thing to see.”
He received a round of applause for his declaration, especially from his father, who in a Fox News interview aired earlier this month said that he does not want his children to follow him into the political arena.
In a clip from the interview, Netanyahu answered with a resounding, “No! No!” when asked whether he encourages his children to follow his footsteps. Netanyahu has a daughter, Noa, 39, from a previous marriage and two sons, Yair, 26, and Avner, 22, with his current wife, Sara Netanyahu.
In recent months, as Yair Netanyahu entered the spotlight and made headlines locally and internationally, the Hebrew media speculated that the prime minister is grooming his second-born to eventually succeed him.
The younger Netanyahu drew significant media attention for a series of controversial social media posts, some of which were criticized as being anti-Semitic.
One post featured a cartoon with references to Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, the Illuminati and a reptilian creature. It 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 is facing indictment.
Although Yair did not apologize for the cartoon, he later removed it from his Facebook page. His post was praised by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer, which called him a “total bro” and in a banner on its homepage proclaimed itself “The World’s #1 Yair Netanyahu fansite.”
He sparked controversy over the summer on a number of other occasions, including for saying the “thugs” from Antifa and Black Lives Matter were more dangerous than neo-Nazis after the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. He also came under scrutiny for a Facebook response to a post by a left-wing organization that later filed suit against him for defamation, as well as for allegedly refusing to pick up after his dog and giving the finger to a woman who complained about it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.