Sisterhood Blog

Sara Netanyahu, Israel's Marie Antoinette

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

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Haaretz Illustration

(Haaretz) — Oh, Sara, Sara, Sara.

First there was your nanny way way back in 1996 - a young South African girl named Tanya Shaw, who told the press that you were a nutty clean freak, a screaming shrew and accused you of firing her on the spot for committing the sin of burning soup and of having burly security guards drag her out of the Prime Minister’s residence after examining her suitcase to make sure she hadn’t stolen anything.

You called her crazy - or at least your husband, the Prime Minister did. His office issued a statement saying the young woman “showed indications of acute instability” which was why she was “removed.” and that “the Netanyahu family regrets the au pair’s severe condition and her imagined and false claims, and will do everything possible to help in her rehabilitation.”

Then, in 2010, there was your maid Liliane Peretz, who went a step further than complaining and filed suit against you in labor court. She said that during the six years she worked for you, you shouted at her, humiliated her, overworked and underpaid her - and insisted that she change clothes during the working day to remain hygienic enough for you. Your letter to the court said her claims were “fabricated” and that Peretz received nothing but “warmth and love” from you. The battle between you was ugly - and finally resolved in 2012 with an out-of-court settlement. No one knows how much money Peretz was given to stop her attacks but one can presume she no longer feels underpaid.

In both cases, your husband’s public relations team managed to launch impressive smear campaigns against the two women - you didn’t come out of the incidents looking very good, but neither did they.

But the news that broke Wednesday - the details that leaked of the lawsuit by Meni Naphtali, who managed the Prime Minister’s residence for 20 months and who’s suing you and Prime Minister Netanyahu for a million shekels in compensation - looks like a whole new ball game.

Three strikes and you’re out?

Naphtali’s descriptive lawsuit is far more damaging and his credibility is going to be much more difficult to impugn.

This is a man with an impressive military background, who served in military units, after countless security screenings and who worked as your personal bodyguard. He was then hand-picked to be residence manager - what is quaintly known in Hebrew as “house father.”

And oh, the things he’s saying in his labor court claim for more than a quarter of a million dollars. The basis of his suit is that he was promised but never given a fair work contract with full benefits. He also claims:

  • That working for you for 20 months damaged him emotionally and physically.

  • That he saw no less than 29 employees rotate through the residence.

  • That he said he presided over a “bitter and angry staff that constantly changed because they found it impossible” to work for you.

  • That you insisted on buying thousands of dollars worth of scented candles on the official budget even though you had been told to limit expenses to food items.

  • That you called him at 3:00 A.M. after a long workday to scream at him for purchasing the wrong kind of milk - the type sold in plastic bags instead of cartons. And that when he protested at the hour and your tone, the prime minister himself got on the phone and told him to give you what you want so you would “calm down.”

  • That you threw a fit when you found the flowers in a vase weren’t fresh and flung the vase on the floor and said this wouldn’t happen in the Elysee Palace (were you LOOKING for a Marie Antoinette analogy?)

  • And the worst of all, the one that is grabbing the headline is the one that touched on the racial hot potato - the story about ordering a Shabbat meal from a hotel and complaining angrily that too much food was provided, saying, “We are sophisticated Europeans. We don’t eat as much food as you Moroccans. You are stuffing us, so that when they photograph us abroad, we look fat.”

The Prime Minister’s Office has called it “evil gossip.” The press, naturally, is gobbling it down faster than the most delectable Shabbat dinner, and the memes are coming fast on Facebook. One can only imagine what’s coming up on the comedy satire shows - they’ve already made plenty of hay from the infamous ice cream scandal and recurring “Flying Bed” episodes.

It’s a shame, Sara. Just recently, you’ve been looking good, with a new wardrobe and a slimmed down figure that everyone has noticed. Now we’re thinking maybe the makeover was strategically timed - you knew this was coming and figured you might as well get ready for your close-up.

Unfortunately, with these kind of accusations flying at you, there is little hope for finding a flattering angle.

For more stories, go to Haaretz.com or to subscribe to Haaretz, click here and use the following promotional code for Forward readers: FWD13.


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