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Flouting Quarantine, Netanyahu Aides Reveal Industry of Lies

All the problems have emerged from the prime minister and his circle – violations, lies, incitement, smears, blood libels

Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter
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Anti-Netanyahu protesters use props during demonstrations in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem, September 14, 2020.
Anti-Netanyahu protesters use props during demonstrations in front of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's official residence in Jerusalem, September 14, 2020. Credit: Meged Gozani
Yossi Verter
Yossi Verter

The praiseworthy alertness of demonstrator Yoav Glasner, who recognized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s social media adviser, Topaz Luk, and Netanyahu family spokesman Ofer Golan, revealed an astounding sight Sunday night, after the Rosh Hashanah holiday ended. These two men so dear to Netanyahu and his wife, one of whom has already been questioned by police on suspicion of witness-tampering, were caught red-handed in a scene which, had it not been so disturbing and outrageous, could have been genuinely comic.

Luk, using a professional camera, was filming the protesters who had arrived – purely by chance – at the same moment that he and Golan were on the scene; Luk then began spouting delusional coronavirus-denial conspiracy theories. Golan was assisting him. Upon being identified, both men, wearing dark caps that merely magnified the farce, fled like frightened ducks from the cellphone of Glasner, who chased after them.

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If we had previously thought Netanyahu was the local version of Richard Nixon, not just in his deceitfulness but also in his methods, we discovered that our local incompetence is hardly comparable to the American president’s “plumbers.” Had the break-in at the Watergate Hotel been assigned to the two heroes of our story, they would have been caught even before they arrived, driving in the wrong lane.

What were the two geniuses thinking? That nobody in that politically savvy crowd would recognize them? Luk, after all, has been interviewed often of late. (And what ever happened to Jonathan Urich?)

Luk, we should also mention, was supposed to be in quarantine. The Prime Minister’s Office, of course, admits nothing. A response by Likud said the man had gone there to take a coronavirus test. But of course – with a camera, in the middle of a demonstration, shortly before midnight, and far from his home.

Later, Netanyahu, the coronavirus screw-up in chief, sent a hypocritical, self-righteous response to the media: “Suddenly, everyone’s upset over one man.” Let’s just remind him that for all the demonstrations that have taken place to date outside his official residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street, not one single quarantine violator has ever been found among the protesters.

Topaz Luk with Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018.
Topaz Luk with Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018.Credit: Abdulhamid Hosbas / Anadolu Agency

All the problems have emerged from him and his circle – violations, lies, incitement, smears, blood libels. The Pandora’s box in the prime minister’s residence, in the spirit and on the orders of his son, is a far greater source of danger to the public’s health than the virus. Modern medicine will never find a vaccine for that.

Anyone who violates quarantine is subject to a fine, as Netanyahu graciously admitted. Now, we have to wait and see whether an investigation is opened against Luk and whether he’s fined 5,000 shekels ($1,400). Given the law enforcement agencies’ current weakness in the face of the Balfour mafia, don’t count on it.

Had the two not been discovered and fled for their lives, the web would have been flooded with footage of the “coronavirus-denying” demonstrators. Netanyahu’s pet journalists and fans would have tweeted voraciously. Likud MK Osnat Mark would have screamed her lungs out in some television studio. Amir Ohana, the Netanyahu security minister, would have urged police to investigate. And more, similar garbage.

The entire incident shone a spotlight on the industry of lies, deceit and fraud that has sheltered under Netanyahu’s wings: fraudulent videos, staged incidents, bots and fake profiles that flood the web. When it succeeds, the foot soldiers are sent out to echo and condemn. When it doesn’t, well, it’s not so terrible; we’ll lie brazenly in response and move on.

For some reason, this reminded me of the (false) accusation that Netanyahu – who had no qualms about lies and filth even back in the mid-1990s – clearly aimed at David Levy regarding a tape that implicated Netanyahu in an adulterous affair. Netanyahu spoke of “a senior Likud official surrounded by criminals.” Well, who is the senior official and who are the criminals here?

Then on Monday, Noa Landau reported on Haaretz’s website that Netanyahu’s diplomatic adviser, Reuven Azar, who also serves as deputy national security adviser, was caught violating quarantine for the second time (the first having been back in Washington). He turns out to be a recidivist, a serial coronavirus violator. Referring to people like that, we used to say “either he’s stupid or he’s evil.”

Reuven Azar at the Christian Media Summit in 2019.
Reuven Azar at the Christian Media Summit in 2019.Credit: Government Press Office

The first time, he wasn’t punished, because the violation occurred abroad. Let’s see what excuse they use this time.

Just as Netanyahu himself proved on seder night, when he violated the coronavirus rules to host his son Avner, there’s nothing like a personal example. When this is what the leader is like, that’s what his inner circle is like. And when that’s what his inner circle is like, it’s unsurprising that half the country thinks it’s fine when they cheat on the lockdown rules and cause further rises in the curves of all our woes.

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