The walking disaster that is Yair Netanyahu will feature in all possible election propaganda by those who will be challenging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the next elections. It looks bad, and it’s as bad as it looks.
A pampered child, who took a state-funded luxury car and security guards to cruise between strip clubs with his friends; a cheeky son who belittles women, curses and boasts about his father’s considerable power – all this is one-of-a-kind material for the organizers of a “crooks, you make us sick!” event. The recordings that reached the Israel Television News Company give off an unmistakable stench of filth and moral decay. The recordings are nauseating. Their broadcast was an ugly, painful wound on Netanyahu’s wing.
Yet after all this, whoever deceives himself into thinking that Netanyahu’s miserable son will bring him to his end is mistaken.
First of all, the behavior depicted on the recordings is still quite acceptable in Israeli society, more so than many behavioral styles that don’t include the degradation and exploitation of other people. Strip clubs, as we’ve learned from numerous colorful reports in the weekend press, are legitimate Israeli entertainment, and many people won’t understand the problem with the way Yair and his friends talk about women. In the United States, by the way, a man was elected president after recordings were disclosed in which he talked about women no less disgracefully. In Israel many see that president – that terrible historical mistake – as Israel’s greatest friend.
Secondly, the prime minister’s response was shrewd, even if it was marked, as usual, by the exaggerated passion that offers the public a glimpse into the pressure cooker in the prime minister’s residence. “Every parent who saw that report should consider how he would respond if every silly remark by his children would turn into a Channel 2 headline, if every time they left the house it would be subject to an investigation and every conversation would be a subject for secret recording,” he said.
For a moment, in a brilliant marketing move, he lowered himself and his family from the glorious and corrupt Olympus on which they live and placed them on the ground near ordinary parents, those who earn a few thousand shekels a month and don’t blow that kind of money in one night on drinks and strippers. Who hasn’t seen his son get drunk; who hasn’t held her daughter’s head as she threw up in the bathroom? It happens. Even to parents Sara and Bibi.
In his response, Netanyahu repeated those classic Bibi-style motifs that the Likud electorate gulps down, knowing to wait for them, prepared to echo them with boundless enthusiasm. First there is the feeling that the whole world (i.e., the media, which is of course leftist), is against us. “Your witch hunt has reached a new, unprecedented nadir with the publicizing of a secret recording of things said in jest two-and-a-half years ago by young people passing the time with alcohol,” he said.
This was accompanied, as usual, by a swipe at leftists, without any justification or connection to what was broadcast. “You have never covered any relative of any other prime minister with such vicious intrusion, including relatives who protested against IDF soldiers during a military operation, and who got almost zero coverage,” he said. What does Ehud Olmert’s daughter Dana, who demonstrated against an IDF attack in Gaza in 2006, have to do with Yair Netanyahu’s gang of stripper-fiends? Netanyahu was using her to make sure his audience has their priorities straight: leftist ideology is far more grave than wasting public funds and behavior of the type exhibited by Yair Netanyahu.
The boastful remark that Yair Netanyahu tossed out to Ori Maimon, the son of gas tycoon Kobi Maimon, must of course be investigated. But I’m willing to bet that it is as valuable as all the other things that Yair Netanyahu has said and all his ethical contributions to the world as manifested in his behavior. One big nothing.