The prime minister’s Facebook page is full of photographs of the third lady, who’s often mistakenly called the first lady. (According to protocol, the prime minister’s spouse is preceded by the spouses of the president and the Knesset speaker.)
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Sometimes it seems that producing and releasing photoshopped pictures of Sara Netanyahu is a vital mission of the Government Press Office.
So, for Haaretz’s Hebrew-language magazine, I asked the GPO’s director, former journalist Nitzan Chen, how many photographs of the third lady had been taken so far this year.
The reply seemed a little loose with the facts: “After a preliminary check at your request, from January 1, 2017 to June 31, 2017, the GPO team has documented Mrs. Netanyahu four times.”
The GPO then listed the four occasions, though it must be said the devoted husband released a romantic photo of himself and his lady with a sunset in the background, and this photograph was omitted from the GPO tally.
So I asked the GPO again, this time substituting the word times for occasions. Chen said “no problem” and added that it would take some time. But a few minutes later came a change of heart; maybe he realized what he was in for (and from whom) if he gave the real figure.
Although the GPO is independent in giving information to the public, and Chen himself doesn’t fear responding on other matters, he chose to refer me to the Prime Minister’s Office. He added that “it pertains to the prime minister’s schedule.”
I argued that I didn’t want to know where, why and how Sara Netanyahu had been photographed, only how many photos of hers were on file since the beginning of the year. This is an easy figure to provide. Certainly no state secret. Just type “Sara Netanyahu” into the GPO’s internal search engine. But the GPO apparently succumbed to the growing fear of Netanyahu and his family.
Netanyahu’s office chose to ignore my request.