Durga meme row and other reasons why Israeli PMs son Yair Netanyahu is always in news – The Indian Express

Posted By on July 29, 2020

Written by Neha Banka, Edited by Explained Desk | Kolkata | Updated: July 29, 2020 6:00:23 pm Yair Netanyahu pushes content on social media that appeals to his fathers right-wing political base, a group of ardent supporters who are called Bibists, a play on the prime ministers nickname Bibi. (Photo: Twitter/ @YairNetanyahu)

Yair Netanyahu, 29, the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has no formal role in Israels government but he is never far from controversy and ensuing headlines. In his latest gaffe, the younger Netanyahu shared a Twitter image of Goddess Durga superimposed with the face of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit and the tiger superimposed with that of prosecutor Liat Ben Ari, who are both investigating an ongoing corruption case involving his father. Below the photo was a caption in Hebrew that read: Know your place you despicable people. The deitys arms were morphed to show the middle finger.

Following criticism for his tweets, particularly from Indian social media users, Netanyahu deleted the post, writing: Ive tweeted a meme from a satirical page, critizing political figures in Israel. I didnt realize the meme also portrayed an image conected to the majestic Hindu faith. As soon as I realised it from comments of our Indian friends, I have removed the tweet. I apologize to all our Hindu brothers and sisters for this mistake. (sic)

What role does Yair Netanyahu play in furthering the prime ministers agendas?

Yair is considered to be a very influential social media figure (in Israel) and has a large number of followers on different platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. He is considered to be an informal spokesperson of his father on social networks and many times we see that some controversial opinions and messages his father cannot say, he can express freely, says Edan Ring, a lecturer in communications and social change at Ben-Gurion University, in an interview withindianexpress.com. He has boasted that he single-handedly changed public opinion in Israel through social media.

Netanyahu pushes content on social media that appeals to his fathers right-wing political base, a group of ardent supporters who are called Bibists, a play on the prime ministers nickname Bibi. We can see how hundreds of right-wing trolls on social media follow him and share or retweet his messagesThey are willing to share and publish every single lie or smear that can help his father and hurt his enemies, says Ring.

Netanyahus modus operandi on social media is similar to that followed by other leading populist leaders around the world, Ring says, from Trump to Hungarys prime minister Viktor Orbn and Brazils Bolsonaro. He usually uses social media to attack liberal elites and focuses mainly on mainstream media, calling them leftist and fake news, the legal system and the Supreme Court, saying they are deep state trying to overthrow his father, and of course the opposition and the Arab minority.

To an outside observer, Netanyahus iconoclasm doesnt appear to leave any institution or individual untouched if he deems them to be critical of his father. To his fathers supporters and by extension his, some of Netanyahus most serious controversies are at times dismissed as the result of him being brought up in the public gaze, ever since his father first became Israels youngest prime minister in 1996, when Yair was five years old.

Since 2017, following the launch of investigations concerning corruption charges involving his father, Netanyahu had stepped in more prominently into the public sphere, using his social media platforms to tell these investigating authorities and his fathers opponents exactly what he has to say about them. On many occasions, very much like investigations into his parents alleged wrongdoing dominating news cycles in Israel, Yair Netanyahu too finds himself under similar scrutiny.

What are the controversies in which Yair Netanyahu has been involved?

Most lately, Netanyahu has been furiously tweeting against protests in Israel that have been ongoing for weeks, where Israelis have been protesting against the governments mishandling of the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the countrys economy.

Also Read | Explained: Why Israel has been witnessing weeks of large-scale protests against PM Netanyahu

He has been very busy with false accusations and fake posts about the massive protest against his fathers government.He even posted a fake photo, not from Israel, trying to blame the protesters for defecating in the streets next to his familys home, says Ring.

Last week, Yair stirred fresh criticism and controversy for responding to a tweet by MK Nitzan, the head of Left wing-party Meretz, featuring a photo of protests in Tel Aviv: I hope the elderly people who die following this protest will be from your (leftist) bloc.

Over the past few years, the younger Netanyahu has angered many, both in Israel and overseas, says Ring. Some (posts) were intentional and some mistakes. Many of his posts and tweets are (deleted) not long after he posts them, but still the damage is done. It is very clear that he doesnt think too much before he pushes the publish button.

In 2017, he was accused of posting anti-Semitic imagery when he published a Facebook post depicting a food chain featuring US billionaire George Soros dangling the world from a stick in front of a reptile and caricature former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, to imply that both individuals were manipulating the world. Both Soros and Barak have been critical of Benjamin Netanyahu. At that time, the Anti-Defamation League, an international Jewish non-governmental organisation based in the US, had denounced the cartoon and called it anti-Semitic. Themes that portray Jewish businessmen controlling the world are considered to be anti-Semetic.

Yair Netanyahus support for Trump and right-wing public figures in the US is also well documented. Last year, in an interview with a right-wing U.S. broadcaster BlazeTV, he defended Trump, claiming the US president was a real rock star in Israel. In the same interview he championed Trump as the best friend that Israel aond the Jewish people ever had in the White House and added that Trump will be remembered in Jewish history forever for moving the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem and recognizing the Golan Heights.

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In 2018, Yair Netanyahu came under fire after recordings surfaced where he and his friend, the son of Israeli tycoon Kobi Maimon, were heard discussing everything from a $20 billion deal that the prime minister had arranged for Maimon, to searching for prostitutes late into the night.

Why Yair Netanyahus rants matter

Observers say Netanyahu has been increasingly trying to promote himself as a leading populist right-wing figure in Israel and even overseas. He has become more visible in the public sphere by delivering public speeches and by accompanying his father on official trips, like his visit last year to the US.

However, it would be an oversimplification of Yair Netanyahus political ideology if he were to be considered a right-wing figure only attacking the left given that that no one seems to escape his wrath. He often attacks and smears right-wing figures if he thinks they are a threat or if they criticize his father. The only thing he is loyal to is his fathers power, says Ring.

He is more extreme than his father not only in rhetoric but also in ideology and many people think that he is planning to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a politician soon. That is something that many people fear because it means more polarisation for society in Israel.

After the latest controversy over the morphed image of Goddess Durga, Yair Netanyhau published a series of tweets to highlight his love for India and perhaps to emphasise diplomatic ties between India and Israel.

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Durga meme row and other reasons why Israeli PMs son Yair Netanyahu is always in news - The Indian Express

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