WASHINGTON - Mayor Sandy Stimpson of Mobile, Alabama, removed on Sunday a tweet thanking Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for donating 1,000 KN95 face masks for first responders in his city. A spokesperson for the Netanyahu Family said on Sunday that Yair has nothing to do with the donation that was made on his behalf as a pro-Israel PR campaign.
On April 14, Stimpson wrote as a part of his daily update: “Today, we received an unexpected gift of 1,000 N95 masks from my friend Yair Netanyahu, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yair visited my office last year to share ideas on how to improve law enforcement. We are incredibly blessed by his donation, which is sorely needed.”
The Mayor also thanked Netanyahu on social media – on Twitter and Facebook. However, later these posts were changed, and instead of Netanyahu, Stimpson thanked Yisroel Stefansky of ASTI for the donation. “These masks are sorely needed and will be put to immediate use by our first responders and health care workers who are on the front lines in the fight against Coronavirus,” the Mayor added in a different tweet that still appears on his account.
Stimpson also uploaded a video on April 14 with Jim Jewell, Special Agent in Charge for the Mobile office of the FBI, who delivered the masks to his office. In the video, Special Agent Jewell said that the donation was made by Netanyahu and Stefansky. The Mayor praised Netanyahu for the contribution. “Not in our wildest dreams did we think he would remember us during this crisis and send us these masks to be distributed for first responders,” he said in the video.
A spokesperson for the Netanyahu family told Israeli media that Yair is not the person behind the donation. “It was not coordinated with him, and he learned about it from the media,” the spokesperson said. “A private American organization that Netanyahu worked for in Alabama among other places, bought and sent the masks on his behalf, without his knowledge, as a part of a pro-Israel PR campaign,” the spokesperson added.On Sunday night, Mayor Stimpson issued a press release, clarifying his previous posts. “We are grateful to the Advanced Security Training Institute (ASTI) for making this donation,” he wrote. “In expressing our appreciation, we credited Yair Netanyahu for being part of the donation. This was incorrect and we regret the error,” the statement reads.“We met Yair with ASTI founder Yisroel Stefansky when they visited Mobile last year. ASTI has an important mission to help American communities become safer by sharing expertise learned in Israel, and we are grateful for their interest in supporting our first responders,” he added. “On behalf of the City of Mobile, we wish to thank Yisroel and ASTI for donating the masks which are sorely needed in the fight against COVID-19. We are blessed by our friends in Israel and the Jewish community. Our prayers are with them all people at such a time of crisis around the world."