'This Isn't Russia, Bibi, and You're Not Putin': TV Host Fires Back After Attack From Netanyahu's Son

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Israeli television host Ofira Asayag speaking during her show.
Israeli television host Ofira Asayag speaking during her show.Credit: Screengrab

Israeli TV broadcaster Ofira Asayag publicly addressed on Friday her verbal clash with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's son, Yair. This is the second time Asayag responded to last week's rhetorical sparring session, in which Netanyahu called her a "crude beast."

Yair, the prime minister's elder son, went after Asayag when the latter interviewed Likud activist Orna Peretz, the woman who interrupted the prime minister's speech two weeks ago over the closure of an emergency room in northern Israel.

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Netanyahu blasted Peretz, telling her: "You're boring us."

"This week I went through what many went through before me. Why? Because that's what the Netanyahu family decided," she said during a monologue on her show, "Ofira and Berko," adding that "if you don't toe the line – you get smacked."

Asayag said she has always voted for right-wing parties, "but this week Yair Netanyahu called me a leftist. It's clear by now that this is how it is with the Netanyahu family. Whoever doesn't agree with them is a leftist, and to them being a leftist is an insult. No money for emergency rooms – 'leftists!' No budget for senior citizens – 'leftists!' The south is being pummeled with missiles – 'leftists!' The president says his [Netanyahu] law is excessive – 'the president is also leftist.' Breathe for a moment. This isn't Russia, Bibi, and you're not Putin."

"You know what, Bibi? It turns out there are a lot of right-wingers who don't think like you," said the popular talk-show host. "And in a democratic state that's allowed … I don't know if you know, but even those whose opinions lean left, they too fight and die in Israel's wars, serve in the army and pay taxes – like you and me. What you're doing is dividing the people, turning camps against each other. For what? To keep the throne?"

Earlier this week, Culture Minister Miri Regev chimed in on the argument. "Red lines have been crossed here. She [Asayag] needs to be an adult and not stoop to this level. What do they expect a child whose parents are constantly insulted, not to defend his parents? That people talk about his mother, about Sara Netanyahu, such crude and ugly things – and that he wouldn't respond?"

Regev went on to say people shouldn't "mess" with the children of elected public officials. "Forget the fact that she says, in every show, bad things about me, she's a bad woman and I don't respond to her, but why constantly hound and hurt Sara Netanyahu?"

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