Yair Netanyahu takes the stand in libel suit, calls proceedings ‘Kafkaesque’

Former PM’s son, who alleged ‘Crime Minister’ protest group was funded by foreign figures and likened them to Nazi militas, tells court his tweets were within reasonable bounds

Yair Netanyahu greeted by supporters as he arrives at the Tel Aviv District Court on April 24, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)
Yair Netanyahu greeted by supporters as he arrives at the Tel Aviv District Court on April 24, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/ Flash90)

Yair Netanyahu, the son of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, took the stand on Sunday to testify in his own defense as part of a libel suit against him.

The left-wing protest group “Crime Minister” sued the younger Netanyahu in 2020 for NIS 500,000 (about $153,000) over a series of tweets in which he compared them to Nazi militias.

In the Twitter tirade, the former prime minister’s son also said that the organization “[recruits] the most insane, violent, and with severe psychotic problems,” according to Haaretz.

Netanyahu claimed that the organization, which was among the leading groups during the protests calling for his father’s ouster from power, was paying people to attend the then-weekly demonstrations in Jerusalem and operating at the backing of “foreign European funding, [George] Soros, the pedophile [Jeffrey] Epstein, and [former prime minister] Ehud Barak.”

Testifying at the Tel Aviv District Court on Sunday, Netanyahu claimed that he did not direct his remarks against the “Crime Minister” organization as a whole, but “to a small handful of loud and violent thugs who will do anything, including resorting to violence, to get publicity,” according to Haaretz.

He claimed his statements were in the bounds of reasonableness because “by any standard,” the organization is an “anarchist group, with radical views, which acts violently, and whose members tend to shout with a megaphone and swear in rude language,” he said.

An Israeli woman carries a sign as left-wing and right-wing demonstrators are separated by police during protests in support and against then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on March 2, 2019. (Gili Yaari/ Flash90)

In comments in court, Netanyahu alleged that former prime minister Ehud Barak is “getting revenge against me because I revealed that he is a pedophile,” a likely reference to accusations that Barak had dealings with Epstein.

Netanyahu claimed the defamation suit against him was “completely Kafkaesque,” alleging that the activists who filed the suit were inciting against him. He did not provide any proof for this statement. The court set another hearing in the case in 45 days.

Yair Netanyahu is no stranger to libel lawsuits and legal threats. He has a history of posting incendiary messages on social media and tweets fast and often against those he believes have wronged him and his family.

In 2020, he was ordered to pay NIS 286,000 ($71,000) in damages to former Walla news site editor Avi Alkalay in a libel lawsuit. Alkalay had sued Netanyahu for sharing a number of posts on social media that called the journalist a “planted mole from the Wexner Foundation,” a group that the Netanyahu family accuses of funding left-wing groups and campaigns, and that alleged he was in cahoots with the state’s prosecution against the premier.

In 2019, Netanyahu won a libel lawsuit against Labor Party activist Abie Binyamin, who had accused him of using a fake Mossad-issued passport to hide millions overseas. Netanyahu sued Binyamin for NIS 140,000 ($37,000) in damages over a 2017 Facebook post that claimed the premier had asked the secret service to issue his son a passport under a different name, which he then used to hide money offshore.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruled for Netanyahu, but lowered the award to NIS 20,000 ($5,600) in damages and a further NIS 7,000 ($2,000) in fees.

Most Popular
read more: