Maher asks ex-PM Netanyahu if Israel will 'retaliate' for Kanye's tweets

Speaking to Bill Maher, former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu additionally rejected claims that Israel is an apartheid state as "ridiculous charges."

 Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 16, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu gestures at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on May 16, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Bill Maher asked Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu if Israel will "retaliate" against rapper Kanye West's recent antisemitic tweets in an interview on Friday.

"Antisemitism is the longest hatred in history. It goes back thousands of years. We've dealt with bigger problems than these stupidities," said Netanyahu in response.

"The Communists blamed the Jews for being Capitalists. The Capitalists blamed the Jews for being Communists. You have a problem, blame the Jews," added the former Israeli prime minister. "It's old stuff. It shouldn't have any place in civilized discourse and that's the reason we established the Jewish state so the Jewish people would have defense against these absurdities and sometimes they're coupled with violence, we don't let that happen again."

"The Communists blamed the Jews for being Capitalists. The Capitalists blamed the Jews for being Communists. You have a problem, blame the Jews."

Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Maher was referring to recent social media posts by Kanye West, including a recent tweet in which he wrote "I’m a bit sleepy tonight but when I wake up I’m going death con 3 [sic] on Jewish people. You guys have toyed with me and tried to blackball anyone [who] opposes your agenda."

Rapper Kanye West makes a point as he holds his first rally in support of his presidential bid in North Charleston, South Carolina, US July 19, 2020. (credit: RANDALL HILL/REUTERS)Rapper Kanye West makes a point as he holds his first rally in support of his presidential bid in North Charleston, South Carolina, US July 19, 2020. (credit: RANDALL HILL/REUTERS)

Netanyahu calls apartheid claims 'ridiculous charges'

In the interview with Maher, Netanyahu also called claims of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and massacres of Palestinians "ridiculous charges against the one democracy in the Middle East."

"We just have to defend ourselves against these people because they purvey lies. You ever hear the word 'fake news.' This is fake old news. Goes back thousands of years. We're not impressed by it."

In response to a question about whether he thinks Israel would need to become an apartheid state if 51% of the country were to become Arab, Netanyahu stated, "I don't think that's a real issue."

"I don't think they have the facts right," said Netanyahu to Maher. "About 20% of Israel's population is Arabs and they're really the only Arabs in the Middle East to enjoy full and equal civic rights in the Israeli democracy.

The former prime minister stressed that he made an effort to incorporate Arab citizens into the "tremendous success story that is Israel," adding that "the demographic balance is maintained."

"The most important thing is the democratic balance is maintained because everyone has a right to be part of the Israeli democracy and the Israeli success story." 

Netanyahu added that the claim was a "bogus charge" and berated the Palestinians for oppressing gay people and women and for being in league with Iran.

"If I have to say anything, [it's that] the place where they should direct their fire is at the Iranian regime and they should support the brave women of Iran that are showing the world what courage is," said Netanyahu.