Netanyahu occasionally tweaks his rivals for their exaggerated occupation with the inanities of the social networks. Before doing so again, he should count slowly to 10 and remember his Facebook post of Thursday a week ago, in which he lambasted “the media” and people “across the political spectrum” for not condemning the suspected rape of a mentally disabled Jewish woman, allegedly perpetrated by Palestinians simply because she was Jewish.
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In the meantime, the two Palestinian suspects were released from custody because the police concluded that no rape was committed – and indeed, the woman admitted that she had concocted the whole story. But that’s not the point. The speed with which the prime minister of Israel responded so rabidly and in such an inflammatory way from the living room of his official residence to an unsubstantiated suspicion represents a new low in offensive behavior whose bottom we thought we’d already seen.
He was torn to pieces in a post by MK Yacimovich: not only for inciting in such a transparent way, but because he has never spoken in defense of rape victims – such as, for example, in the case of former president, and convicted rapist, Moshe Katsav. But when the opportunity arises to get some “likes” from the folks that MK Benny Begin (Likud) this week called the “stupid right” in a radio interview, Netanyahu charges ahead enthusiastically.
The next day, in the wake of the sweeping criticism, Netanyahu issued a kind of apology – not for the right reasons, but at least he apologized.
This shameful saga led people to wonder what and who is behind Netanyahu’s posts and tweets. He himself boasts that he is gadget-free. Got no computer, got no smartphone, got no car, got no mule. But someone is handling the social networks for him.
As far as is known, the relevant and dominant player in this regard is Netanyahu’s elder son, Yair. Yair’s 20-something friends help out in the Prime Minister’s Bureau and in Likud headquarters: They handle the “social operation.”
It’s inconceivable that Netanyahu doesn’t see the posts issued in his name; he is known to be obsessive about every word, comma and period appearing in press communiques. Still, such a rash, base response seems more likely to come from a group of impetuous young people than from a 67-year-old burgher in his fourth term of office. But then again, we also saw and heard him on Election Day last year warning against the “droves” of Arabs (for which he also apologized – sort of), and we heard him, the day after the terror attack on Dizengoff Street in which two Israelis were murdered, when he flippantly branded all the country’s Arab citizens criminals.
This week, at the height of the security cabinet crisis, Education Minister Naftali Bennett held a talk with confidants in his office. He spared no words about the loss of values, the shame, and the unconscionability of a person who could promise opposition leader Isaac Herzog a settlement freeze and veto power over everything that moves, and the next day strike a deal with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman. The premier’s “rape” post was also part of the conversation. Bennett said he was shocked to read it: “How is it possible to make use of a horrific act such as rape to reap political capital?” he asked. “Jews commit rape, Palestinians commit rape. Is everything political? Is there no limit to the cynicism?”
In this regard, Bennett follows a consistent line. Whenever Netanyahu comes out with an anti-Arab, intolerant, polarizing comment, Bennett is the first – and possibly the only one on the right – to condemn and dissociate himself from it.