Son of Benjamin Netanyahu, Yair, under fire for social media activities

© AP Photo/ Uriel Sinai

Pressure is mounting on previously bulletproof Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with multiple investigations into bribery, fraud and breaches of trust threatening his premiership. However, his son Yair's social media activities are also helping destroy Bibi's last remaining vestiges of credibility.

On July 30, the Sixty One Project, an offshoot of Israeli democracy think tank Molad, slammed Yair in an article, "5 Facts About Our National Son" - the piece pilloried the 26-year-old for living off his parents at taxpayer expense, taking lavish vacations, seeking to influence his father, and encouraging the boycott of Arab-owned businesses.

The post also claimed Netanyahu's son wielded sizable and growing influence over his father, particularly regarding media matters, suggesting he was responsible for his father's softened stance towards Elor Azaria, the IDF soldier convicted of shooting dead an unarmed Palestinian in 2016.


The group also quoted several of Yair's social media posts, in which he called Arab business owners "bastards" and slammed the "left-wing authorities" for turning a blind eye to Arab crime.

Beyond incendiary social media posting, Project Sixty One also said a number of Yair's ski vacations were funded by the Defense Ministry, and the most expensive trips ever bankrolled.

It also highlighted the numerous times Yair Netanyahu has stayed at properties owned by Australian businessman James Packer, himself a suspect in the corruption investigation into Netanyahu - the prime minister is alleged to have accepted expensive gifts from Packer, friends and business associates.

However, on August 1 Yair may well have exacerbated the situation by responding himself.

In a Facebook post, the whippersnapper said he was being unfairly singled out, and would not address the organization's "lies."

Nonetheless, he accused Project Sixty One of being a "radical, anti-Zionist organization funded by the Foundation for the Destruction of Israel [a Hebrew play on words, referring to the New Israel Fund] and the European Union."

"How nice that your side is always going on about incitement, demonization, character assassination and crossing of all red lines," he wrote.

He signed off his post with a pair of emojis - a pile of excrement, and a middle finger, undoubtedly a reference to a recent scandal in which he is alleged to have given a woman the middle finger in a Jerusalem park after she asked him to clean up after his dog.

Project Sixty One in turn issued a response to Yair's post, calling on him to apologize and remove the post or face a defamation lawsuit.

"You got angry, you lied about us without a shred of evidence of receiving funds from Israel's enemies. Do you really want to burden [the prime minister] with more libel lawsuits just because of your behavior? Apologize and delete the post, and this will be over - then we can go back to dealing with the more burning issues, like the corruption among the country's leaders," the group wrote.

While Yair is yet to apologize, he has taken the nuclear option of deleting the post.

Nonetheless, while the episode is largely comic, it will surely add to Netanyahu's legal woes - the family have long trotted out their son for photo opportunities, and the prime minister's image as a loving family man has arguably contributed to his electoral success.

Yair's life has been extensively documented in the media almost ever since his birth, and from his teens onwards his behavior has increasingly provoked ridicule and condemnation - there is a growing perception among Israelis that he uses his father's position to fund a lavish playboy lifestyle for himself and friends, at taxpayer expense.

When not jetting around the world, he has a government car replete with driver and bodyguard, and is frequently snapped partying in bars and clubs.

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