Over the last week, Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to have relegated his premiership to a different, lower level. He ascribes great importance to using New Media and also invests a great deal of money in it – funded by the taxpayer, of course. Indeed, if we go by what happened last week, there seems to have been a coup at the Prime Minister's Residence on Balfour Street. It almost seems like some guy kidnapped Netanyahu and overrode his Facebook page. Or, perhaps, some lady.
On February 15, Netanyahu shared a status by Eti Altman, spokeswoman of the animal-rights association Let the Animals Live: “During the last year, I discovered a mighty friend of animals: Sara Netanyahu,” wrote Altman. “Even in the difficult times she is experiencing personally, she finds the time to back our struggle for the dogs held on Israel Defense Forces bases, and to ensure that our proposals is studied… I do not forget the one who is mindful of the distress of animals, who helps us in our struggle. Compassion, in my view, is a noble trait, and with Sara Netanyahu, I found a great deal of compassion for animals and people. Unfortunately, in the texts lashing out at her again and again in the press, I found not one drop of compassion.”
Altman posted that status at 13:24. By 15:18, Netanyahu had shared it. Indeed the machine is well oiled. Unfortunately, Altman’s compassionate manifesto omitted the fact that the Netanyahus had demanded that the accountant general at the Finance Ministry allocate outlays for food for their dog as a government work expense.
The next day, on February 16, Netanyahu flew for a working visit to Berlin. In a status from there, he wrote, “At the Yad Vashem exhibition at the historic museum in Berlin. We shall not forget, and we promise: Never again!” Three photos were attached to the post. All showed Netanyahu with his wife. In two, Chancellor Angela Merkel was also featured. In one, she’s explaining something to Mrs. Netanyahu; and in the other, she and the prime minister are standing, with Sara Netanyahu between them, in the center of the picture.
Two days later, we were treated to images of Mrs. Netanyahu again online, this time visiting a hospital. The prime minister uploaded a post starting with the words, “Health Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, together with my wife Sara, visited Sarah Sperling, who was injured in the bad accident on Highway 1, at the Assaf Harofeh Hospital today." Two pictures were attached. The upper one shows Sara Netanyahu, at the center, with Litzman beside her. The lower one shows Sara talking with the mother of the patient. About this, the prime minister wrote: “My wife Sara said today: ‘We went to visit Sarah, a 20-year-old woman who about to be married and suffered a serious accident. I spoke with her parents, embraced her mother – and with the help of God, I hope we can share her joy with her at her daughter’s wedding… This was a combination of Divine providence and excellent medical care… I and all the people of Israel are praying for the full recovery of Sarah and the other casualties of that terrible accident.”
That day, things escalated. The official Facebook page of the Israeli prime minister uploaded the following post, together with a picture of Sara Netanyahu warmly embracing a girl: “I have been accompanying Mika for six years now, during which she courageously fought cancer – and today I am moved to celebrate her 16th birthday with her and the children of the Rachashei Lev organization [for children with cancer]… Mika, I love you and pray we can celebrate together next year too. Sara Netanyahu.
As this new week began, there was yet another online post by the wife of the prime minister: “I met tonight with Christina Noble, who is visiting Israel this week ahead of the premiere of the movie describing her autobiography… Tonight we discussed our shared passion: helping children, including children in distress, with whom I meet in the course of my work as a child psychologist and in other frameworks as the wife of the prime minister. It was an inspiring meeting with this amazing woman, who is an example and symbol of the human ability to make the world a better place. Sara Netanyahu.”
The matter at stake here is not some triviality or gossip fest. Benjamin Netanyahu has asked in the past that we leave his wife alone, but he doesn’t leave us alone from his wife. It is hard to believe that this is happening thanks to his own free will. Netanyahu is behaving, de facto, like a hostage. This is not only embarrassing and shameful: It begs real questions about his suitability to make decisions and to do his job substantively and objectively.
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