Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu failed to set an example for the Jewish people by not preventing his son from dating a non-Jewish Norwegian woman, Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev told The Jerusalem Post Sunday.
According to the report in the Norwegian newspaper Dagen, when the prime minister met Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg for a diplomatic meeting in Davos last week, he boasted of his son Yair’s relationship with Sandra Leikanger from Grimstad, Norway.
Leikanger is a student at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya.
A source close to Netanyahu’s son confirmed that she is not Jewish. But her older sister Ida, who moved to Israel, has converted to Judaism.
“It’s a big problem,” Ze’ev said. “As the prime minister of Israel and the Jewish people, he must display national responsibility via the values he presents inside his own household. I bet it pains him. Any Jew who wants to maintain his roots wants to see his son marry a Jewish girl. There is no shortage of beautiful, successful girls without sowing in the fields of others.”
Ze’ev said he thought Netanyahu understood the importance of representing the Jewish people and the beauty of Jewish values. He praised him for walking two kilometers back to his hotel on Friday evening in Davos so as not to violate Shabbat, following meetings at the World Economic Forum.
There was also criticism for Netanyahu from within his own party. “All I can say is that it is very unfortunate,” MK Moshe Feiglin said.
World Zionist Organization vice chairman David Breakstone, who represents the worldwide Conservative movement, said he hopes that if the relationship becomes serious she would want to convert to Judaism.
“The laws should change in order to enable Leikanger to convert to Judaism as she and the Netanyahu family would understand it,” Breakstone said. “She should not be limited to a Judaism as understood and interpreted by a Chief Rabbinate with an antiquated interpretation of Judaism that is out of sync with the majority of Jews around the world.”
The anti-assimilation group Lehava wrote on Monday, following the media reports: “Bibi’s son has found a gentile! His father is proud of him and gives legitimacy to the assimilation and destruction of the Jewish people.”
The prime minister’s second wife, Fleur Cates, was also not Jewish but converted to Judaism. Netanyahu and Cates were married between 1981-84.
Israeli media picked up the story, curious about what security measures were put in place if in fact Yair had traveled to Norway for a visit with his new love interest – according to photos posted on the girlfriend’s Facebook page, the couple’s trip there seems to be verified.
Yair, 23, made news in June when he heckled Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelach when the MK spoke at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where Yair is a student.
Students in the right-wing student group Lavie said Yair’s views were “just like his father’s.”
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.