Netanyahu Launches Unprecedented Facebook Attack on Sheldon Adelson's Rival

Netanyahu accuses Arnon Mozes, publisher of the daily that rivals the pro-PM freebie Israel Hayom, of trying ‘to replace the government, for the sake of business interests and personal profit.’

Nir Keidar

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched an unprecedented attack via social media Monday morning against Arnon (Noni) Mozes, the publisher of the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth and the Ynet news website.

Yedioth is the main competitor of the freely distributed newspaper Israel Hayom, which is owned by the Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a close friend of Netanyahu.

“The time has come to put this on the table: The main element behind the wave of smear attacks against my wife and myself is Noni Mozes, publisher of the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth and of the Ynet website,” Netanyahu wrote on his Facebook page and on Twitter. “He does not shrink from acts to bring down the Likud government that I lead, close the newspaper Israel Hayom, and restore Yedioth Ahronoth’s rampant control of print journalism.

“In recent weeks," the premer added, "the attacks against me no longer appear once a day, in the morning, when Yedioth Ahronoth is delivered. They are published almost hourly, sometimes even half-hourly, on Ynet. Both these platforms deliberately engage in, and coordinate, slanders that are ludicrous, false and biased against me and against my wife, as part of a media campaign to replace the Likud government with a left-wing government and to restore Noni Mozes’ control over the media market.

“This broad-based and coordinated smear campaign uses former employees, tries to obtain money from the state illegally, and makes use of all sorts of other interested parties, among other things. I do not claim that all criticism expressed against me comes from Noni Mozes. There are many in the media who do their jobs faithfully. They criticize the government in a practical, if harsh, manner. But this is something else entirely: A well-connected businessman in the media is engaging in a systematic smear campaign against a sitting prime minister, in order to replace the government in Israel, for the sake of obvious business interests and personal profit.

"I bring these things before the public, to say clearly: Likud and I are not daunted by these slanders. We will keep fighting against all malicious smears for the sake of the security and prosperity of the State of Israel. No one is going to stop us. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I will elaborate later.”

Response: 'PM should be hospitalized'

In response to the prime minister's post, a journalist from Yedioth Ahronoth said on the "Seder Yom" program, on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet station: “I am a bit concerned because I think that the prime minister got up on the wrong side of the bed. As long as this man remains in his position, he is the strongest man in the State of Israel – he can use the Shin Bet [security service], the police, [and] he fires judges who decide whom should be awarded the Israel Prize for literature. This man, who has the power to decide everything, is persecuted by fear. I can understand his obsession with Iran and Hamas and Hezbollah. But a newspaper? All we do is hold onto a keyboard. This is a matter for the psychological department, not the journalistic one.

Isn’t Yedioth Ahronoth taking a very harsh line against the prime minister?

“I am not a spokesman for Yedioth Ahronoth. The prime minister is responsible for the government, and the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth is responsible for Yedioth Ahronoth. I hear these statements and I’m a concerned citizen. I am not trying to offer defense. Yedioth Ahronoth is a newspaper that existed before Netanyahu was born, and the newspaper will continue to exist after him, I hope. I don’t understand his style or tone, and I don’t understand why he has to engage in [acts of] paranoia.

"This fellow should be hospitalized. Why does he care if a commercial war is going on and involving a newspaper that he likes or doesn’t like?... A person who is prime minister has to maintain a measure of sanity. If this is what he posts on Twitter, we may call other decisions of his into question, such as the damage caused to us in the United States because of his dependent relationship with Adelson.”