After Yair Netanyahu's scandal, has Israel become a nation without shame?

Even in the midst of the #Metoo scandals around the world, the prime minister will not be harmed by his son visiting a stripper.

By
January 10, 2018 07:08
3 minute read.
Yair Netanyahu observes his father Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reading a prayer at the

Yair Netanyahu observes his father Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reading a prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

Imagine what would happen if tapes were released proving that Prince William, Donald Trump Jr. or Crown Prince Muhammad bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia had embarked on a drunken jaunt to strippers with two friends, including the son of a local gas tycoon.

Think about the scandal that there would be in London, Washington or Riyadh if it came out that taxpayers paid for a bodyguard, state vehicle and driver to accompany the young man to such a problematic destination.

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The local tabloids would be going nuts. There would be protesters in the streets. The fathers would undoubtedly be held accountable.

But in Israel, chances are that in a matter of days the latest Yair Netanyahu scandal will be forgotten.

His name will likely be mentioned at this Saturday night’s weekly anti-corruption protest, but maybe not the one after. The father, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will face zero political problems as a result.

Sure, there was potential for a political challenge for Netanyahu as a result of the tape of his son. But it wasn’t because of the wasted taxpayer funds, because the Netanyahu family can rightly say it was not it but security officials who decided that a bodyguard must accompany Yair everywhere.

There is also no long-term problem caused by Yair’s statement to gas tycoon Kobi Maimon’s son Nir that “My dad got your dad a $20 billion gas deal and you can’t spot me NIS 400.”

It can easily be proven that the gas deal harmed Maimon financially by introducing competition to his company, Isramco.

Even in the midst of the #Metoo scandals around the world, the prime minister will not be harmed by his son visiting a stripper. There is no one who is feminist or foolish enough among the four women in Netanyahu’s cabinet to quit over that.

Ironically, the biggest problem for Netanyahu emerging from his son’s scandal is that he visited the stripper on Shabbat.

The bodyguard and the driver are both employees of the state, and the work they were doing is as far as it gets from being pikuah nefesh (life saving acts that override the holy Sabbath).

United Torah Judaism chairman Ya’acov Litzman quit his post as health minister to protest railway work done on Shabbat that was needed to transport thousands of people.

Shas leader Arye Deri tried to persuade Likud MK Yehudah Glick to leave his shiva (mourning) house to vote to stop Shabbat from being broken at open minimarkets.

The news about the tape started spreading around the Knesset as MKs were preparing for their all-nighter in which they voted on hundreds of amendments to a bill about whether stores should be permitted to be open on Shabbat. Secular lawmakers started teasing their Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) counterparts about whether strippers should be singled out in the legislation.

That is how desensitized Israeli politics has become. Everyone is used to scandals involving Netanyahu, his wife, Sara, son Yair, and their alleged hedonism.

Sara will still be welcomed as a heroine at any Likud event to which she accompanies her husband.

Netanyahu told a foreign interviewer that he has discouraged Yair from entering politics, and Yair made a point of saying at his father’s birthday party when he knew he was being taped that he did not intend to follow in his footsteps. But in the Likud, if Yair ran for the seat reserved for a new candidate from the Jerusalem region, there is little doubt the unemployed 27-year-old would win.

America is still focused on the book about US President Donald Trump in which Ivanka Trump’s political aspirations are revealed. If she does not end up succeeding in American politics, she can always make aliya and come to Israel, where she could get away with anything.


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