Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Tuesday to the release of a recording of his son Yair and his friends banter during a nocturnal outing. Netanyahu focused on his sons misogynist comments, calling them, in an understanding tone, nonsense about women [uttered] under the influence of alcohol.
The prime minister congratulated himself on the education his children received at home, and immediately moved on to the expected attack on the person who had taped the conversation, and on the news outlet that broadcast the recording.
When it comes to morality and values, Netanyahu suffers from total blindness. The public problem that arose from the broadcast isnt his sons vulgar utterances, disgusting and unacceptable as they may be, but in his actions. The problem is going out to strip clubs in a state-funded luxury car, escorted by a state-funded entourage consisting of a driver and security guard, and in the company of the son of a businessman, whose wealth hinges on government regulation.
This is how the delights of power are manifested in places in which the state is seen as the rulers private property. The ruler pampers his cronies and enjoys their gifts. His son goes to brothels with a state-appointed entourage, accompanied by the son of a tycoon who receives drilling franchises from the government, and ends the night in the luxury apartment of another tycoon, who finances the luxury expenses of the ruler and his wife.
Is this the state Netanyahu wants to lead? Does he see it as reasonable that his sons publicly-funded state escort accompany him on a visit to strip clubs?
Its hard to make do with the answer that the security authorities decided to safeguard the prime ministers children and that from that moment on there is no discretion and the state entourage must escort them wherever they want to go. Netanyahu should have made it clear to his son that there are certain limits and that even though hes not an elected public official, he must treat the state and its employees with respect.
Visiting strip clubs may be legal, but is it proper to adorn such places with the state symbol? Does the prime minister think that taking advantage of a dancers body for 400 shekels, which his son mooches off his rich friend, dignifies the seven-branch menorah and the two olive branches engraved on the badges of thee driver and security guard?
Netanyahu is behaving in the Yair affair as he did in the gifts-from-friends affair, better known as the so-called Case 1,000. The same self-victimization versus political persecution of rivals striving to topple Likuds rule, and the same obtuseness to the basic ethics of what is permissible and forbidden, right and wrong.
Netanyahu enjoys boasting of the villa the Jews have built in the jungle. As it turns out, the villa he resides in could easily fit in with any low-budget movie about a banana republic.
The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.
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