Likud 'Personality Cult' Excoriated by ultra-Orthodox Paper Over Golden Netanyahu Medallion

After golden medallions emblazoned with former Prime Minister Netanyahu came to light, a Haredi paper aligned United Torah Judaism, part of his bloc, implored his Likud party to 'stop this madness' if they want to win the election

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Netanyahu in Knesset.
Netanyahu in Knesset.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

An Israeli ultra-Orthodox newspaper issued scathing criticism of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his party on Tuesday for what it said was a "personality cult," potentially signaling further cracks in his previously stalwart support from the community's powerful political parties.

Yated Neeman – affiliated with Degel Hatorah, a prominent faction within Haredi party United Torah Judaism – decried the distribution of golden medallions emblazoned with Netanyahu's face after a viral video showed a Likud party activist attempting to drape one of them around lawmaker Israel Katz’s neck.

Israel's Arab voters can decide it all. Do they want to? LISTEN to Election Overdose

Subscribe
0:00
-- : --

Yated Neeman is the flagship newspaper of the so-called Lithuanian branch of non-Hasidic ultra-Orthodoxy, and is linked to the community's senior rabbinic leader (Gadol Hador), Rabbi Gershon Edelstein.

In the video, Likud activist Heidi Mozes says the necklace is “a declaration of allegiance to our party,” adding “we are proud that we are in this party, that we have excellent elected officials and a wonderful soon-to-be Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

Golden medallion featuring Netanyahu's face

Mozes told Israel's News 12 that she had been handed the jewelry by a third party at the event. “I think that just as we have moments of Rabin, Ben-Gurion and more … I did not understand why everyone is scared of a bit of necklace," she said.

The Yated Neeman article facetiously asked if Likud members will now start putting up plaster, silver or gold reliefs of Netanyahu near their front doors as a sign of “absolute loyalty to the leader," making sure they "have indeed situated the relief in place, and with the respect it deserves, if they want to be party members."

The paper implored Likud to “stop this madness” if they want to win the election, calling the behavior a “cult of personality” that will only serve to bring the party to “destruction and ruin."

“It isn’t far from a gold chain to a golden calf," it said.

Netanyahu, who is currently mounting his fifth attempt in three years to regain power, is known for his fervent supporters, many of whom refer to Netanyahu as “King Bibi.” The ultra-Orthodox parties, for their part, have long strongly supported him in exchange for a continuing monopoly over several domestic policy issues.

But, in another sign of weakening support, last month United Torah Judaism lawmaker Uri Maklev questioned Netanyahu’s ability to establish a government. He said that, should the now-opposition leader fail to assemble a viable coalition, UTJ may ultimately support Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz.

“I hope that this won’t be the case," he told Army radio. "But if that’s the case ... and Gantz is able to put it together … I think he can also adapt to right-wing parties."

Last week, Gantz and New Hope head Gideon Sa’ar announced they would run together in the election.

Late last year the ultra-Orthodox parties effectively declared war on what they termed the “hellenists” in the government looking to upend Israel's religious status quo, and promised to launch a joint national struggle to preserve the country's “Jewish character.” They had been firmly against former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s diverse ruling coalition, which had ended Netanyahu's record reign in 2021 and lasted a year before infighting made it no longer tenable.

JTA contributed to this report.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott