North Africa, West Asia

Yair Netanyahu: a scandalous man

Benjamin Netanyahu's eldest son has been at the center of many scandals from corruption to social media activity.

Tariq al-Shammari
16 August 2018

Yair Netanyahu. Picture taken from Facebook. In recent years, the 27-year-old Yair Netanyahu, the eldest son of Benjamin Netanyahu, has gotten heavily involved in political affairs. Most of Yair’s social media activities and statements notoriously bring about problems and scandals for the Israeli Prime Minister's family. Some of these statements have become his source of international recognition, though Israelis know him for numerous scandals over the past five years.

Media outlets always cover Yair’s lavish lifestyle. Haaretz reports that “he is guarded at all times and has an official driver and uses an official car.” This is all financed from the state budget, but so far the Israeli government has refused to publish the amount of these expenses.

The release of a recording in which the younger Netanyahu under the influence of alcohol reveals his father’s financial corruption regarding a $20 billion deal for future natural gas drilling raised the public outcry. “[The statement was full of] nasty things about women and other things that should not have been said. Don't represent the person I am, the values I was educated on and what I believe,” reportedly said Yair. Moreover, Yair’s relationship with prostitutes in nightclubs and having a non-Jewish girlfriend brought about much criticism in Israel.

Yair, who studied international relations at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, also posted an insulting anti-Turkey Instagram post (a "F--k Turkey" meme) which has been a source of controversy on social media over the past few months. “Bibi’s son waded into the growing crisis between the two countries in the wake of Israel’s response to the violent Palestinian protests at the Gaza border,” reports New York Post.

Ya'air has also been linked to his father's financial corruption cases and has been interrogated by the Israeli police. Just a few months ago, Haaretz revealed that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his wife Sara and son Yair were questioned by police on Monday in connection to the Bezeq bribery case.” The police suspected that Yair Netanyahu “conferred regulatory benefits on the telecom giant Bezeq in exchange for favorable coverage of the Netanyahu family on the popular Walla news website.”

Recently, Haim Saban, an Israeli-American billionaire and media mogul who has a deep love for Israel revealed that Yair demanded a bribe to issue legal licenses for the establishment of Saban Venture in Israel. Haim Saban is a strong and major supporter of Israel for many years and FIDF National Board Member. On many occasions, Haim Saban collects donations to support Israel but he expressed his shame for what Yair has done to him and his team. “I am very pleased to be able to take a step towards the progress of the Jewish people and see them going further and pushing the boundaries of what is possible," he said in a recent interview, “… of course, there are some hardships in this way, and sometimes it happens that I am ashamed to tell them to anybody. For example, while getting legal permissions to open the office of Saban Venture at Tel Aviv-Yafo, thanks to the friendship with the Prime Minister's son Yair, my colleagues met him to get the required licenses. Perhaps it is hard to believe that for helping Israel we had no solution but to give bribe to Yair to obtain the permission for licenses.”

Barak Pridor, the managing partner at Saban Ventures, confirmed Haim Saban's statements and said that “unfortunately, as Mr. Saban said, Yair demanded $40,000 bribe in return for issuing legal licenses. Since we did not have a better way to obtain permits, I informed Mr. Saban about this, and because of his great interest in Israel, he agreed to pay the money.”

Just a few days ago, Yair put it that “right wing is the 'real liberal camp' and slams leftists for labeling the Israeli right 'Nazis' and 'fascists',” which once more provoked controversy. Until now, the Netanyahu family has not responded officially to Yair’s recent controversies and scandals but predictably a spokesperson may say that his personal statements and activities are not representative of the Prime Minister and his family.

Perhaps some believe that Benjamin Netanyahu has served the Israeli people during his term as prime minister and his endeavor resulted in the progress and advancement of Israel in many areas. Many members of the Prime Minister’s inner circle attempted to defend him, but it should be considered that today Bibi and his family members particularly his wife, Sara, and his son, Yair, are greedily eyeing the available resources of power to fulfill their desires and they cannot neglect their personal, financial and political interests.

This opportunism and abuse of power has caused them to be involved in a number of financial and political corruption cases with new dimensions being revealed every day. This volume of corruption is unique in the history of Israel. Meanwhile Netanyahu justifies this abuse of power for personal interest as if receiving gifts from billionaires is his right, something that should clearly disqualify him from remaining in power. In the next Knesset election, the Israelis have to clearly express their views with their votes and decide whether to continue or stop the corruption in their country.

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