Over 24 hours have passed since the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a malicious image clearly drawing on anti-Semitic terminology – and the silence emitting from the house on Balfour Street is thunderous.
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In a meme posted by Yair Netanyahu to his Facebook account on Friday, and hastily taken down Sunday evening, the face of Jewish tycoon George Soros was put on a neo-Nazi character known to symbolize the imagined world-manipulating Jew, beneath the distressing headline “food chain.” The caricature, spiced with other popular images from racist conspiracy sites, depicted Soros as the driving force behind leaders of the protests against alleged corruption in the prime minister’s residence, Eldad Yaniv and Meni Naftali, and behind Netanyahu nemesis Ehud Barak.
Since the post appeared, it has drawn support from ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and plaudits on America’s leading neo-Nazi website, Daily Stormer, which declared that when you put Jews together “they start sucking each other’s blood” and that “Yair Netanyahu is a total bro.”
The educational and moral failure continued to reverberate in headlines worldwide, but even after Netanyahu the son had second thoughts, Netanyahu the father remains silent. True, the father and son are not the same person. They do not necessarily represent each other. Neither is Yair Netanyahu responsible for what others chose to do with the message he published. However, he is not a private person immersed solely in his own affairs. Many accounts describe him as an inseparable part of the political apparatus surrounding the Netanyahu family, and of what goes on at the Prime Minister’s Office, especially regarding communications, in which he specialized during his army service in the IDF Spokesman’s Unit.
The anti-Semitic meme is not Yair Netanyahu’s first public outrage, but it is his worst. This time silence in light of such an alarming message, cannot be interpreted as anything but consent to the ongoing demonization of anyone who doesn’t get in line with the Israeli right, which is becoming ever more extreme.
In this case, Yair Netanyahu represents not only his personal opinion but also a growing trend on the right, which looks at the prime minster and understands his silence as approval. Regarding Soros’ vilification by right-wing anti-Semites, Netanyahu has given them a tailwind for some time. When his government stood alongside racist elements persecuting Soros in Eastern Europe, and made it clear that it sees him as a “man who continuously undermines democratically elected Israeli governments, by funding organizations that besmirch the Jewish state and try to deny its right to self-defense.”
The PM must cut the growing ties between Jewish nationalists here and racist nationalists, including anti-Semites, worldwide, even if it means publicly reprimanding his son. Removing the evidence will not remove the stain.