Disgraced Netanyahu Aide Founds Company for Web-based Political Campaigns

PM’s former bureau chief woos investors with social-media segmentation technology developed by a 19-year-old relative

Natan Eshel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, May 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Natan Eshel, a confidant and former bureau chief of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has founded a firm to manage online political campaigns using advanced technology. Eshel has told associates that he plans to manage campaigns abroad.

NEAIG — the initials of Eshel and his business partner, Israel Grintz — was registered in January at Eshel’s Tel Aviv address. Eshel and Grintz, a 19-year-old relative of Eshel’s, hold equal stakes in the company and both serve as company directors.

Grintz, who lives in Petah Tikva, has been active in the Likud party’s youth movement for several years and describes himself as the organization’s head of foreign relations. He says he’s “computer genius” who has founded high-tech companies. An article in the local Tzomet Hasharon weekly last year said Grintz “has already registered two patents under his name, and is now the owner of a public relations and strategy consulting firm that specializes, inter alia, in young startups.” A check of Israel’s patents database shows that in 2014 he applied for a patent for “an adapter to connect an external speaker to an audio device,” but never followed it up.

Sources told Haaretz that Eshel has met recently with several prospective investors and that he was full of praise for Grintz, calling him “a genius, the next big thing in the campaign management world.” The sources, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said Eshel told the businesspeople and other potential investors in NEAIG that Grintz had developed a sophisticated system for segmenting a social media audience that was designed for political campaigns. He added that the company plans to work abroad, mentioning the May 2019 presidential election in Panama as a possible target.

Speaking to Haaretz, Eshel said, “We haven’t started to do anything yet. I have plans for the future, but those are my business and no one else’s.” Grintz did not respond to Haaretz’s requests for comment.

Eshel was forced to leave the Prime Minister’s Bureau and government service in 2012 after admitting to improper conduct and was convicted in a disciplinary action. According to reports, Eshel sexually harassed a female colleague. Nevertheless, he remains close to Netanyahu and has managed coalition negotiations for Likud.