Haaretz correspondent Almog Ben Zikri was right on the mark when he summed up Yair Netanyahu’s court appearance this week: “A hearing that’s being conducted in a very circus-like manner.” That really is the picture we get from the abuse and lies that characterized his testimony in the context of the mutual lawsuit between him and Molad – The Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy.
Not surprisingly, abuse and lies are the regular features of his posts on social media. However, this event was not only a “circus” involving a young man lacking any public position – it also teaches us something quite horrifying about the prime minister.
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Most of the claims made by young Netanyahu on the witness stand, in a scathing, preposterous style, are ones we’ve heard in recent years from his father too – only in a subtler, more elegant manner. The prime minister, for example, never called Ehud Barak a pedophile, as his son did repeatedly in his testimony. God forbid – after all, such slander is too much even for him.
But to ask a wicked question and let the public complete the answer on it’s own? That’s a different story. That’s why Netanyahu publicized a video clip in which it was noted that Jeffrey Epstein managed the Wexner Foundation that transferred millions to Barak, and accompanied it with a falsely innocent question: “What else did the sex criminal give to Ehud Barak?”
Netanyahu Sr. never claimed, liked his son, that Haaretz is a newspaper “under Nazi ownership” – only because in the past some of its shares were held by a company whose owner’s father had been a member of the Nazi Party in his day. After all, that’s not logical. But to say the word “Haaretz” along with the words “Nazi propaganda” in the context of a slickly worded sentence? There’s no problem with that.
And so, in response to an investigation by Gidi Weitz and Nati Tucker in 2016, it was claimed on the prime minister’s behalf that Haaretz slanders Israel, and “We can only hope that the fact that the German newspaper concern DuMont-Schauberg, which was involved in disseminating Nazi propaganda during World War II, acquired 20 percent of Haaretz shares is unrelated to this atmosphere.”
That’s how it continues. Netanyahu Sr. will never hurl the word “traitor” at a leftist as his son did in the courtroom, and won’t call the New Israel Fund the “Fund for Israel’s Destruction” – but that’s the conclusion to be drawn from many of his statements. He won’t use the expression “Al-Jazeera channels,” but rather the “propaganda channels” – yet a Likud commercial has already tied the Public Broadcasting Corporation to Hamas terrorists. He won’t speak to the judge at his trial in the insolent style of his son (“I can answer whatever I feel like”), but it’s clear that his respect for judges is likewise not particularly deep, and that he shares the belief that he can answer and do whatever he feels like.
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These things are a problem, but what’s especially disturbing in this story is something else: Yair’s testimony clearly indicates that he believes wholeheartedly in the nonsense he speaks. There isn’t an ounce of cynicism in him. He really sees the world in black and white. If the prime minister’s son honestly believes in the justice of his father’s messages about being framed, about traitorous leftists and an Israel-hating media, the conclusion is that apparently that’s how they talk in the Netanyahu family among themselves too, and not only in public. In other words, it’s possible that the prime minister is not only a cynical propagandist – but that he really believes in the fairy tale that he is Alfred Dreyfus and journalist Erel Segal is Emile Zola.
It’s bad enough that he lies endlessly to survive politically. What’s worse is that Israel’s prime minister for the last 12 years truly believes that pedophiles are trying to bring him down via organizations out to destroy Israel, and all to the sound of rejoicing by a Nazi-owned media.
Itay Rom is a journalist on the investigative news program “Hamakor” (The Source) on Channel 13.