Facebook removed the posts after a flood of complaints, saying they “included hate speech” and clearly violated the community standards.
Isabel Kershner, New York Times
In a Facebook post a few days ago, one of the Israeli prime minister’s sons said he hoped the deaths of two Israeli soldiers killed by a Palestinian gunman in the West Bank would be “avenged” and said, “There will never be peace with the monsters in human form known since 1964 as ‘Palestinians.’”
In other posts, Yair Netanyahu, the older son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he would prefer an Israel without any … and mused that no attacks occurred “in Iceland and Japan where coincidentally there are no Muslims.”
Facebook removed the posts after a flood of complaints, saying they “included hate speech” and clearly violated the community standards. On Sunday, after Yair Netanyahu reposted a screenshot of one of the offending posts online and called on people to share it, the social networking giant suspended his account for 24 hours.
So he took to Twitter.
There he reposted a diatribe he had written against Facebook, describing it as “thought police” and protesting that it hosted “endless pages that call for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.”
After a series of angry tweets, in the early, almost Trumpian, hours of Monday morning, he concluded: “I basically hate leftists to the same degree they hate me. And I wish for them exactly the same as they wish for me.”
Israel’s first son, often in the headlines, is hardly new to controversy or vitriol and has long espoused hard-right views on social media. But his blunt online presence is increasingly raising questions in Israel about the blurred lines between the public and private personas of what some cynics refer to as Israel’s royal family, which has reigned over Israel continually for almost a decade.
“Of course he’s not a private person; he is being paid for by the Israeli taxpayers,” Tal Schneider, the political and diplomatic correspondent for Globes, an Israeli financial newspaper, said in an interview.
Ms. Schneider noted that at age 27, Yair Netanyahu still lives with his parents, in the prime minister’s official residence in Jerusalem, and is provided with a state-funded car and a secret service escort wherever he goes.
“He’s an adult,” she said. “It’s not like he’s a child.”
Social media has already amplified Israel’s evermore toxic discourse, but this latest spurt by the younger Mr. Netanyahu comes as his father, beleaguered by corruption investigations and facing possible bribery charges, is in an election year. He is fighting for a fourth consecutive term in office, and a fifth overall.
Some Netanyahu critics have been waiting for the father to disavow his son’s latest posts, something that has occasionally happened in the past. But there has been mounting speculation in the news media over whether the younger Netanyahu’s posts may actually reflect his father’s own sentiments. Some wonder what kind of values the son has soaked up at home and what sort of conversation might take place at the family’s Friday night dinner table.
“This is, I think, one of closest people to the prime minister,” Ms. Schneider said. Whatever Yair Netanyahu says, she argued, may indicate what he’s hearing at home, or conversely, what he’s bringing home. “It goes in two directions,” she said.
Some of Yair Netanyahu’s social media posts, she said, like one a month ago, when Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition was teetering turned into official talking points of the prime minister and his conservative Likud Party within hours.
Saturday’s “Meet the Press” programme on Israel’s News Channel devoted nearly 15 minutes to a panel discussion of whether Yair Netanyahu’s messages harmed his father or helped him by serving as “trial balloons for his base.” It highlighted several recent examples of Mr. Netanyahu’s pronouncements echoing his son’s Facebook posts, sometimes almost word for word.
One member of the panel, Nissim Douek, a strategic consultant, said many Israelis were “disgusted” by Yair Netanyahu’s extremist, divisive rhetoric.
Aviv Bushinsky, a former media adviser to the prime minister, defended the Netanyahu family, pointing to wayward children of other veteran politicians. Mr. Bushinsky accused the prime minister’s opponents of using Yair Netanyahu as a tool to batter his father. What “the child” had to say, Mr. Bushinsky contended, was “not interesting and not relevant.”
The Netanyahu family’s spokesman declined to comment publicly on Yair Netanyahu’s status or his spat with Facebook.