Netanyahu Spoke Out Against the Loyalty Necklace. 'No, He Didn’t. But Who Asked Him, Anyway?'

A conversation with Heidi Moses, a candidate in Likud's primary, and the activist at the center of the Bibi necklace fiasco

Nir Gontarz
Nir Gontarz
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Heidi Moses at the Knesset. 'I went along with this nonsense.'
Heidi Moses at the Knesset. 'I went along with this nonsense.'Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Nir Gontarz
Nir Gontarz

Heidi Moses, a Likud activist, drew attention this week after a video circulated in which she tried to drape a medallion featuring the likeness of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu around lawmaker Yisrael Katz’s neck. In the video, Moses is heard saying that the necklace was “a declaration of allegiance to our party.”

Hello, Heidi Moses, who is running in the Likud primary and the daughter of former United Torah Judaism MK Menachem Moses.

“How’s it going? I can’t see who I’m talking to because of the AirPods.”

Would you like to know who you’re talking to, or shall we skip that?

“Yes, yes, yes. Well?”

Nir Gontarz. I’m a journalist at Haaretz. How are you?

“Nice to meet you. Very well, thanks. How are you?”

Not too bad. Do you know why I’m calling?

“I can imagine.”

I’m listening.

“Are you writing an article?”

I’m talking with you.

“I organized an evening for Likud members to get the campaign going. I’m running for the new woman’s spot [on the party’s election slate]. It was a convention with the Givat Ze’ev branch. An incredible convention. While I was talking to people, suddenly this guy jumps on me.”

Jumps on you?

“He approached me from the side. He surprised me and said, ‘take a loyalty necklace.’ So I said, ‘sure, a loyalty necklace.’ I went along with this nonsense, and then took the necklace and said, give some to my friends. I then put the necklaces on them. ‘Keren, what do you want. Katy, what do you want. Yisrael, gold or silver?’ Yisrael went along with it and laughed. Only later he said, ‘I didn’t do this and I didn’t do that.’ At the time, he laughed.”

In your opinion, is the pendant, the “loyalty necklace” with an image of Netanyahu, a gag? Is it a joke or not? If someone doesn’t wear it, are they disloyal to the chairman?

“People don’t have a sense of humor. It’s unbelievable. Instead of looking at it as merchandising like in the United States. Accessories and whatever. This country isn’t developed. ‘Oh no, an image and a likeness.’ Tal Schneider is going teach me about an image and a likeness? Has she started to observe family purity? Yalla!”

Who? I didn’t hear you.

“The political correspondent Tal Schneider wrote ‘Thou shalt not make unto three any graven image or likeness.’ Does she understand anything about image or likeness? So I asked her if she has started observing family purity. I’m glad she is becoming more religious.”

Listen, in America they don’t take the hats and pins as a sign of loyalty. Anyway, I still don’t understand whether it’s a joke or not.

“What can I tell you… It’s something a nice young guy came up with. I don’t know … he spotted an opportunity and jumped on it. I didn’t advertise the evening heavily. Only right before the convention. Boom! I put out the word on all the groups. He jumped on the opportunity.

Quite a jumpy guy.

“He came along and did his thing. I just went along with it. I don’t read anything into it. It’s just like the LGBTQ community, which has all sorts of pins in all sorts of forms.”

Called loyalty pins, with the image of a leader of the community?

“I don’t care. Animals, humans. It’s all the same.”

Sorry, I still don’t get it. Is the “loyalty necklace” a joke or not?

“Let me ask you: Is it a joke or not?”

I don’t know.

"I see people being crushed, who are having a hard time and can’t put gas in their cars to get going – that bothers me. From the age of 26, I’ve done so much for people. The entire Knesset knows what I do. Google, too! You can find it all. Yesterday, I went to a Likud event and everyone was going crazy over it, and [saying] ‘where can I get one, where can I get one?’"

Not everybody clicked with it.

“OK, so there were five people in the Likud who didn’t get it. By coincidence, they are from the new Likudniks.

Netanyahu is new Likud? He came out against it.

“No, Netanyahu just said ‘it doesn’t have to be worn.’”

Ah, OK.

“He didn’t come out against it. But who asked him, anyway? Do I look like someone who asks people what I should do?”

Do you support Netanyahu?

“I support the chairman of our movement. Of course.”

Have you seen the testimonies from the trial?

“The truth is, no. I haven’t been following the legal affairs.”

What has come up so far is that Netanyahu, over the course of a decade, demanded – he didn’t receive as a gift – and his wife demanded as well, champagne and jewelry and coats, shirts and cigars worth hundreds of thousands of shekels.

“But they also got presents! They got presents from Sara Netanyahu and Benjamin Netanyahu, it wasn’t one-sided! Imagine that we are friends. You bring me a present for my birthday, I give you a present for your birthday. I don’t get it.”

Let me explain. It wasn’t mutual in the way you present it.

“From the little that I know, the court heard that Sara also gave generous gifts to the other couple. It’s the same thing.”

Some people claim that Sara Netanyahu gave one gift with some kind of financial value. One.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on. Let me put things in order for you. We have a separation of powers. The legislative branch and the judicial branch… I have a group of lawyers that I set up, The Women and People of Steel. I will not enter the judicial branch. I am in the legislative branch and will be there all my life.”

Quite a statement.

“From the little time that I have, when I’m not with my wife and kids, and in the little time that’s left, I try to keep up to date, but I stick to the knowledge possessed by the excellent attorneys around me.”

Have you bought a loyalty necklace?

“I didn’t buy one. He just put in one me and that was it.”

So you don’t have a loyalty necklace?!

“I do! The one he put on me and I have this necklace that Yisrael Katz threw aside, to his left.”

Like father, like son. Now you’ve got two necklaces that you didn’t pay for.

“I have to give them back to their owners. If you find him, let me know.”

Did you look for him at all?

“Everyone that asks me who that guy is. I say to them, go look for him yourselves.”

Receiving gifts like that isn’t a good way to go about launching your career as an MK.

“I’m not an MK. Got it? Let’s start with that. It doesn’t apply to me. As soon as I see the guy, he’ll get his money.”

Great.

“I’d like to buy a few more for some people who love Bibi and are crazy about Bibi, and I understand them. It’s a nice necklace. Now let’s deal with important things, OK?”

OK.

“Thank you very much! Bye.”

Bye.

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