The Israel office of the Anti-Defamation League on Sunday took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son to task over a controversial meme he posted on his Facebook page that includes anti-Semitic themes, as leading white supremacists celebrated his use of the image.
The meme showed American Jewish billionaire George Soros, and a figure that resembles Nazi depictions of world Jewry as a reptilian, manipulating former prime minister Ehud Barak and two leaders of weekly protests calling on Netanyahu to step down over corruption allegations.
“The cartoon that Yair Netanyahu posted contains blatantly anti-Semitic elements,” the ADL tweeted in Hebrew. “The dangers inherent in anti-Semitic discourse should not be taken lightly.”
Netanyahu’s Friday post has been shared by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and other anti-Semites.
Leading US neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer welcomed the younger Netanyahu as one of their own Saturday, praising him for using the image.
In an article titled “Netanyahu’s Son Posts Awesome Meme Blaming the Jews for Bringing Down His Jew Father,” the website wrote, “Yair Netanyahu is a total bro.”
“Next he’s going [sic] call for gassings,” the website added.
“Welcome to the club, Yair – absolutely amazing, wow, just wow,” Duke, the former KKK leader, tweeted as well as sharing media reports about the meme.
Political leaders in Israel have also lashed Yair Netanyahu for the cartoon.
The opposition Labor Party’s chairman, Avi Gabbay, told Army Radio the post “crossed every line imaginable,” saying it was a “very sad” day for Israel and the Jewish people when the prime minister’s son posts a cartoon that the leader of the Ku Klux Klan can endorse.
Barak, one of the meme’s targets, wondered on Twitter whether Yair Netanyahu, who enjoys a state-funded driver and bodyguard while living at the prime minister’s official residence, absorbed his ideology at home.
“What is it, genetics or a spontaneous mental illness? It doesn’t matter. In any case, we ought to pay for him to have a psychiatrist, not a bodyguard and a chauffeur,” Barak tweeted.
Yair Netanyahu responded by calling Barak a drunk who needed geriatric care. Earlier he accused the Haaretz daily of being anti-Semitic after it reported on the cartoon.
The 26-year-old Netanyahu has drawn criticism for living a life of privilege at taxpayers’ expense and for his crude social media posts.
The Netanyahu family is facing a slew of corruption allegations. The prime minister has been questioned about his ties to executives in media, international business and Hollywood. His associates have been engulfed in a probe relating to a possible conflict of interest involving the $2 billion purchase of German submarines. Israel’s attorney general has said he intends to indict the prime minister’s wife, Sara, for fraud over her bloated household expenses.
Yair Netanyahu, who has reportedly taken a leading role in his father’s aggressive social media platform, has also been drawn into the scandals.
Australian billionaire James Packer has reportedly lavished Yair with gifts that included extended stays at luxury hotels in Tel Aviv, New York and Aspen, Colorado, as well as the use of his private jet and dozens of tickets for concerts by Packer’s former fiancee, Mariah Carey.
Police are trying to determine whether these constitute bribes, since Packer is reportedly seeking Israeli residency status for tax purposes.
The prime minister has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, portraying the accusations as a witch hunt against him and his family by a hostile media. He has resisted increasingly vocal calls for him to step down.
At the opening of Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, Netanyahu declined to respond to questions about his son’s social media posts, saying, “This isn’t a press conference.”