Analysis

Repulsive and Troubling: Yair Netanyahu's Strip Club Tapes

Yair Netanyahu's strip club comments will undoubtedly increase the level of disgust with the prime ministers family, even among his most diehard fans

Benjamin Netanyahu with son Yair on a trip to the western wall in 2015
אי־אף־פי

Just when we thought nothing could surprise us about the Netanyahu family any more, just when we thought we could no longer bear any new revelations of corruption and greed, piggishness and vulgarity, brutishness and verbal aggression on the part of the imperial family, on Monday the recording of their eldest sons after-party pops up.

>>'God help us if this gets out': The full transcript of Yair Netanyahu's wild Tel Aviv night

It turns out that this barrel has no bottom. We once again discovered that this family is totally unprincipled, that something very fundamental is broken on the residential floor of the prime ministers Jerusalem home, that these people will never accept responsibility, repent their sins or ask forgiveness. They will always retreat to their default option: slinging mud at anything that moves. This is evident from the statement the family issued, which begins, incredibly, with the words, every parent should think.

Later Monday night the prince himself issued a response, in which actually apologized and expressed regret for the nonsense he had uttered. At least he did that much. He certainly didnt apologize when he posted a cartoon on his Facebook page that emitted a strong whiff of anti-Semitism.

The recording disclosed on Israel Television News main broadcast Monday night has 50 faces, each one more nauseating and more worrying than the next. Theres the fact that the prime ministers son is in the habit of going to strip clubs with his friends, accompanied by bodyguards provided by the state and driven from place to place in a government car with a government driver; the disgusting conversation between the three young men in the car.

One of the nadirs of which was when Yair, with the infinite generosity of a garden-variety pimp, offered to set up his friends with an ex-girlfriend as they swapped their experiences with prostitutes; and of course, the apparently close friendship between the prime ministers son and the son of gas tycoon Kobi Maimon during the very period when the media, political and economic worlds were intensively discussing the governments troubling deal with the natural gas companies, which went all the way to the Supreme Court.

We shouldnt be shocked by his statement, My dad set up $20 billion for your dad, and youre fighting with me about 400 shekels [about $115]? This definitely isnt the smoking gun that opponents of the gas deal have been seeking. But its certainly legitimate to wonder whether the father was unaware of the friendship between the sons, as claimed in the familys statement, and whether no forbidden messages were transmitted around the family dinner table.

Just as its legitimate and necessary to once again raise the question of whether party boy Yair really needs a round-the-clock bodyguard. Even senior government ministers in the security cabinet who belong to classified ministerial committees no longer receive 24-hour protection as they one did. Is it really necessary for the prime ministers son to drag a government bodyguard and driver and car with him when he goes out partying with friends, merely because his parents (and especially his anxious mother) insist on it?

Obviously not. This reflects a thorough contempt for the rules and regulations that until a decade ago were considered sacred. The children of previous prime ministers received no protection at all, yet not a hair on their heads was ever harmed, thank God. The protection provided to Yair and Avner Netanyahu is a caprice — one of many — of their mother Sara and their father Bibi, nothing more and nothing less, as attested recently by the former head of the Shin Bet security service, Yoram Cohen.

Its too soon to predict the recordings political and electoral ramifications. After all, in Israel, anything is possible. In certain circles, it could even be viewed as continued persecution of the family.

The question that clearly must be asked is whether the publication of the recording will cause Benjamin Netanyahu political damage among his base on the right. Many people who vote for Netanyahu and his Likud party are traditional or conservative, and some are certainly religious. Yet theyre willing to put up with a lot without it denting their loyalty to the party and the leader. We see this both in polls and in election results.

Nevertheless, what we heard Monday night surely increased the level of disgust with the prime ministers family, even among his most diehard fans. And thats even before weve become privy to the details of the crimes attributed to Netanyahu in the case of illicit favors he allegedly received from businessmen.