Bintel Blog

Haaretz Defends the Netanyahus

By Nathan Jeffay

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Want to turn your foes in to friends? Do it the Bibi way and try a P.R. disaster.

Since before the general election last February which resulted in him becoming Prime Minister, he’s been regarded as “Teflon Netanyahu”. That is to say, political and P.R. disasters don’t seem to scathe him. Now we’re seeing that they have the strange effect of winning him the sympathy and support of his foes.

A former maid is suing his wife, Sara, for treating her unacceptably and paying her below the national minimum wage. Since the suit was filed earlier this month the media has been strongly critical of Mrs. Netanyahu, claiming that she meddles in state affairs.

But with the country’s media mauling Mrs. Netanyahu, and by implication her husband, Haaretz’s Gidon Levy usually one of the Prime Minister’s strongest critics, leapt to the couple’s defense. In this article in which he argues that the public’s treatment of Netanyahu is “tainted by more than a hint of despicable male chauvinism.” He contrasts the treatment of Mrs. Netanyahu with the treatment of the husband of opposition leader Tzipi Livni. Despite being heavily involved in his wife’s political activities, Livni’s husband is accepted and respected. “What a man married to a female public figure can do a woman married to a male public figure can,” claims Levy.

Even more remarkable than Levy jumping to the Netanyahus’ defense was the response of Ahmed Tibi, leader of the Arab Ta’al party in Knesset, a strong critic of every Israeli government especially Netanyahu’s, and former adviser to Yasser Arafat. While Netanyahu’s supporters failed to stick up for him in Knesset, Tibi decided to see here and here.

He declared that though he wants to see the back of Netanyahu, “there are things you don’t do to a politician… like to degrade and attack his family in a nearly inhumane way. To topple you — yes. But not Sara.” Netanyahu was noticeably moved by the declaration and in an unprecedented act of warmth to Tibi he walked over to shake his hand. One wonders what an Olmert-style scandal would do for Netanyahu. Spur an endorsement from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?


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