Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son sparred with former prime minister Ehud Barak on social media on Saturday night, with Yair Netanyahu suggesting the ex-premier drank excessively and was involved in unscrupulous business dealings.
Opposition lawmakers on Saturday strongly criticized Yair Netanyahu, 26, for posting a cartoon over the weekend that appears to have anti-Semitic origins and has circulated on anti-Semitic websites.
The cartoon, posted Friday on Yair Netanyahu’s private Facebook profile, features references to Jewish billionaire and philanthropist George Soros, the Illuminati and some sort of lizard creature.
It takes aim at his parents’ critics, including 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, Yair’s mother, is facing indictment.
Yair Netanyahu posted the graphic with the caption: “Food chain.”
Barak, in response, wrote on Twitter: “Is this what the child is hearing at home? What is this, genetics or mental illness? In any case, we should fund a psychiatrist for him, rather than security and a driver.”
The younger Netanyahu retaliated on Facebook a short while later, saying he hoped the former defense minister did not “tweet from his residence in Boston (between one shady deal to another) while drunk on whisky (as I remember well). It’s time for a geriatrist, Ehud.”
Barak, 75, is a former prime minister, defense minister, IDF chief of staff and Israel’s most decorated soldier — and a leading critic of Netanyahu.
Responding to the younger Netanyahu’s posting of the cartoon, which former Ku Klux Klan head David Duke shared an article about on his Twitter account, Labor party chief Avi Gabbay said earlier Saturday it was a “sad day” when the prime minister’s son shares a cartoon the leader of the KKK would agree with.
“A sad day in particular for all of the Jewish people, when from the house of the prime minister of the state of the Jews comes a cartoon that the head of the KKK agrees with,” Gabbay tweeted.
Netanyahu's son posts a meme suggesting (((Soros))) is controlling the world: "Meme rife with anti-Semitic themes"https://t.co/6WxSTUNU4e
— David Duke (@DrDavidDuke) September 9, 2017
Zionist Union MK Isaac Herzog said Yair Netanyahu’s sharing of the cartoon was a “disgrace” and called on the prime minister’s son to delete the post and apologize.
“Every Jew should feel a sense of horror and disgrace that a cartoon [in the] Der Stormer style came out of the residence of the prime minister of Israel and receives an embrace from [the] great anti-Semite,” Herzog wrote on Twitter, referring to David Duke.
“Delete, apologize and condemn,” Herzog added.
Zehava Galon, the head of the left-wing Meretz party, also condemned Yair Netanyahu over the cartoon.
“Today the motifs of the Netanyahu family are anti-Semitic, par-excellence. How steep and alarming the deterioration. How steep and shocking a decline. What a low,” she tweeted.
Earlier Saturday, Yaniv tweeted the cartoon, along with what he described as its “source of inspiration” lifted from anti-Semitic sites.
“On the right, a post by the son of the prime minister of the Jewish people,” wrote Yaniv, displaying the cartoon posted by Yair Netanyahu which appears to suggest that Soros, via the lizard — a possible reference to the anti-Semitic concept of “reptilian Jews” — working through some sort of Illuminati schemer, is behind a series of allegations against his parents.
Alongside the cartoon in Yaniv’s tweet is a similar one, said to be the original, portraying a Jewish character — often seen in anti-Semitic memes and other propaganda — as the mastermind behind what appears to be American obesity and/or love of hamburgers.
Despite the criticism, Yair Netanyahu published another post on Saturday evening, saying he had copied the cartoon from an anti-left Facebook page that features a graphic of his father drinking “leftist tears” from a cartoon jug as the profile picture and Pinochet and Pepe the Frog as its cover photo.
Yair Netanyahu’s post on Friday came after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that Sara Netanyahu is to be indicted, pending a hearing, for fraud, for allegedly diverting some NIS 360,000 ($102,000) of shekels in public funds for her own use, with the specific intention of avoiding payment of personal expenses over private meals ordered to the Prime Minister’s Residence.
The Netanyahus have blamed the legal entanglement on Naftali, who served as caretaker in the Prime Minister’s Residence for a period of two years. In Yair’s cartoon, a tray of food appears alongside a photo of Naftali.
“Expenditure over food ordered in disposable containers had remarkably inflated during the time when state witness Menny Naftali served as caretaker, and miraculously dropped when he left,” Benjamin Netanyahu wrote in a Facebook post this week.
“Why did expenses grow precisely during these years? Who ate or has taken this huge number of containers and meals, that were enough to feed a soccer team? Certainly not the Netanyahu family,” Netanyahu wrote.
“You should understand, this is what the entire story against the prime minister’s wife is based on. They told us about the garden furniture, the electrician, the bottles, the waiters, the nanny – in the end all that’s left is the bizarre and false story of the [food] containers, most of which were ordered by Menny Naftali. This, too, will evaporate during the hearing,” he wrote.
The prime minister, separately, is being investigating in a number of corruption allegations, for which he has been called on to resign, including most recently by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Barak recently mocked Netanyahu for claiming that “all politicians speak to publishers,” after the prime minister was forced to reveal following a court ruling that he had spoken with the financial backer and the editor-in-chief of the Israel Hayom daily, Sheldon Adelson and Amos Regev respectively, hundreds of times in a three-year period.
Netanyahu has faced deepening legal trouble in a group of criminal probes, including suspicions that he tried to arrange more favorable coverage from the publisher of a rival publication in exchange for curbing Israel Hayom’s circulation numbers. Both Adelson and Regev have given police testimony in the corruption probes against the prime minister. Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing.
Yaniv, for his part, may have been targeted in the cartoon for co-initiating a High Court petition in January calling to instruct Mandelblit to be transparent in his probes of Netanyahu, particularly regarding a submarine deal with the German company ThyssenKrupp.
Yair Netanyahu has been in the headlines several times in the past few weeks, after claiming that American left-wing groups are 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.
The prime minister’s son also lashed out at a group called Sixty One which criticized his lifestyle in a Facebook post in July. He accused the group of serving a radical left-wing agenda and drawing a threat of a libel lawsuit.
A few days earlier, Yair Netanyahu made the news over an incident in which he reportedly refused to clean up after his dog. A woman said Netanyahu junior flipped her the bird after she asked him to clean up the family dog’s excrement in a Jerusalem park.