By Ruth Eglash
Sunday September 10, 2017
In this Jan. 22, 2013, photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, prays with his sons Yair, background, and Avner at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Uriel Sinai/Pool/AP)
JERUSALEM — Israeli leaders and political commentators reacted with anger and bewilderment Sunday after Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, posted a classic anti-Semitic meme on his Facebook page.
Neo-Nazi groups in the United States and Holocaust denier David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, liked the post, however.
“Yair Netanyahu is a total bro,” wrote Andrew Anglin in the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer. “Next he’s going to call for gassings.”
Duke tweeted about it.
The image posted over the weekend by the younger Netanyahu, who goes by the name “Yair Hun” on Facebook, appears to be a local take on a classic anti-Semitic meme suggesting that Jews control the United States. It has appeared widely on extreme alt-right websites.
In this instance, it depicts his father’s perceived foes: American Jewish billionaire philanthropist and investor George Soros, outspoken former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, activist Eldad Yaniv and Meni Naftali, a former housekeeper for the Netanyahu’s who successfully sued them for mistreatment.
Netanyahu captioned the meme “the food chain.”
It is not clear who created the caricature, but many in Israel condemned it and expressed shock that the prime minister’s son would share such an image.
Barak suggested he should see a psychiatrist.
“Is this what the kid hears at home?” he wrote on Twitter. “Is it genetics, or a spontaneous mental illness? It doesn’t matter. In any case, we should fund his psychiatrist instead of security guards and a driver.”
Netanyahu responded to Barak by telling him to get a geriatric nurse: “I hope Ehud Barach [a play on words meaning “Ehud ran away”] didn’t tweet about me from his seat in Boston (between one shady deal or another) while drunk on whiskey (as I well recall). Time to get a geriatric nurse, Ehud.”
He also responded to an article about his post in the left-leaning newspaper Haaretz, calling the publication anti-Semitic.
“It’s a particularly sad day for Israel when a caricature endorsed by the head of the KKK emerges from the home of the prime minister of the Jewish state,” wrote recently elected Labor leader Avi Gabbay on Twitter.
“Every Jew should feel a sense of shame that a Der Stürmer-style cartoon has come out of the Israeli Prime Minister’s residence and was embraced by one of the great anti-Semites. Erase, apologize and condemn!” wrote Opposition Chairman Isaac Herzog on Twitter.
“This post was not put up by mistake, this is in keeping with the views of his father,” activist Eldad Yaniv told The Washington Post. “He wants to set Israeli society on fire, pitching people against each other, so he can hide the suspicions that are against him.”
On Twitter, Yaniv shared the image posted by Yair Netanyahu together with the original, which he called the inspiration behind a post from “the son of the prime minister of the Jewish people.”
Yaniv, together with former housekeeper Naftali, have been leading weekly protests against the prime minister and the attorney general over what they see as a failure to issue indictments against Netanyahu in at least two cases of alleged corruption.
Three weeks ago, the two men were violently arrested and held overnight by police for Facebook posts calling on the public to join them. Last week, in a speech to his supporters, Netanyahu publicly attacked the two men, calling them anarchists and criminals.
On Friday, Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was informed by the attorney general that she will probably face charges for excessive spending, ordering — against protocol — ready-made food and hiring private chefs to the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.
Writing in the daily Yediot Aharonot, commentator Ben Dror Yemini said this post indicated the prime minister and his family were panicking.
“If that wasn’t clear then along came this cartoon to demonstrate that something bad, very bad, is happening in the [prime minister’s] residence on Balfour Street. When an anti-Semitic cartoon gets posted there, that is no longer just the problem of the people who reside in the residence. It is the State of Israel’s problem,” he wrote.
Last month, at the time of the neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Va., Yair Netanyahu also caused controversy by equating neo-Nazis with activists from far-left anti-fascist group antifa.
“I’m a Jew, I’m an Israeli, the neo nazi scums in Virginia hate me and my country. But they belong to the past. Their breed is dying out,” the 26-year-old wrote on Facebook. “However the thugs of Antifa and BLM who hate my country (and America too in my view) just as much are getting stronger and stronger and becoming super dominant in American universities and public life.”