Yair Netanyahu sues former driver for recording night of debauchery

Premier’s son claims Roi Rozen illegally taped him and his friends on a night out at strip clubs before releasing the tapes to a news outlet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's eldest son Yair Netanyahu is seen at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on June 5, 2018. (Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's eldest son Yair Netanyahu is seen at the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on June 5, 2018. (Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son Yair is suing a driver who made recordings in which the premier’s son was heard making disparaging comments about women during a night of excess at a series of Tel Aviv strip clubs.

Yair Netanyahu filed the NIS 1 million ($272,000) suit against Roi Rozen for defamation, infringement of privacy and breach of statutory duty, claiming that the tape was made illegally by the driver for financial gain.

The security firm Modiin Ezrachi also filed a lawsuit against Rozen earlier this year for NIS 250,000 ($73,000) over the former employee’s alleged secret recording of Yair and his friends.

The recording, apparently made over three years ago, captured conversations between the then 25-year-old Yair; Nir Maimon, the son of gas magnate Koby Maimon; and Roman Abramov, a friend of the younger Netanyahu.

In the recordings, published by Hadashot TV news in January, Yair Netanyahu and his friends can be heard discussing the thousands of shekels they had paid for private dances that evening. In comments made while he was likely inebriated, the younger Netanyahu also appeared to offer his friends sexual favors from a woman he was in an intimate relationship with in exchange for money.

Finally, waiting outside of a strip club, he asked Maimon to “spot him” money for strippers in return for a controversial gas deal worth billions that was pushed for by the prime minister and benefited his friend’s tycoon father.

Apparently recognizing the explosive nature of their comments, even if made jokingly, at one point the group could be heard telling the state-funded security guard escorting them that he could be “murdered” if he told anyone.

In other sections of the recording, Yair Netanyahu, Maimon, and Abramov can repeatedly be heard discussing women they have met throughout the evening, including strippers and prostitutes. “I’ll text her and she will come as takeout,” Yair Netanyahu jokes to Maimon about one waitress.

“You know how many strippers’ numbers I have in my phone?” Abramov adds. “Half my phone is strippers.”

At one point, Abramov tells Netanyahu and Maimon that they are “acting like idiots,” standing outside a strip club. “If you were photographed, do you know how that would look?” he says, naming the well-known Pussycat strip club as one of the haunts they had visited.

Later, Maimon says that he “blew” NIS 3,000 ($870) on strippers that night. Abramov says he spent around NIS 2,000 ($580) on “two or three” private dances.

Yair Netanyahu also discusses a woman that Hadashot news reported he had been in a relationship with. “If you want, I can set you up with some ****,” he says of her, in comments that the channel said it censored due to their offensive nature. He adds that he could charge money for pimping her out.

Illustrative: The Pussycat Dolls strip club in Tel Aviv, October 3, 2017. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)

Hadashot news said that the conversations took place in an armored car provided by the Prime Minister’s Office and driven by a similarly state-funded driver. A Shin Bet security guard was also with the group throughout the night.

Netanyahu and Ambramov can be heard joking that there would be “serious ramifications” if the guard were ever to lose his job.

“If he got fired,” Abramov says, “we would have to murder him.”

“Be careful when you resign,” they tell him. “You could die.”

At the end of the evening, Yair Netanyahu and Abramov were dropped off at Packer’s house, the report said.

The recordings were released by Hadashot despite pressure from the Prime Minsiter’s Office to block their broadcast. Netanyahu’s attorney Yossi Cohen sent a letter to the outlet asking that the recording not be aired, the channel said.

In a statement to the TV channel, the Netanyahu family said the recordings were meant to undermine the prime minister.

“Your witch hunt has reached a new and unprecedented low with the broadcast of a secret tape of things that were said jokingly two and a half years ago, between young people drinking alcohol,” the statement said.

In a rare move, Yair Netanyahu also released his own statement responding to the report, calling it “biased and shameful,” and claiming the recordings were illegally obtained.

“In that late night conversation, under the influence of alcohol, I said foolish things about women and other foolish things that would have been better left unsaid,” he said. “These words do not represent who I am, the values I was raised on, or the principles I believe in. I regret saying them and apologize if anyone was offended by them.”

Yair Netanyahu has been at the center of a number of scandals over the years, including for his social media activity. He’s been in hot water for contentious social media posts often attacking his and his family’s detractors.

Last year, he was criticized for posting a cartoon that appeared to adopt anti-Semitic themes to take 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.

Yair Netanyahu has also previously made international waves by saying in a post that American left-wing groups were more dangerous than neo-Nazis, following deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a far-right march, and US President Donald Trump’s controversial statements that “both sides were to blame” for the violence.

He is also involved in a legal dispute with the left-wing think tank Molad, each suing the other for libel.

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