Yair Netanyahu tweeted the addresses and phone numbers of three men who led protests against his father’s administration. All three said they later received death threats.
An Israeli court on Sunday ordered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s older son to stop harassing three people helping to lead protests against his father’s administration after he tweeted out their home addresses and cellphone numbers.
Judge Dorit Feinstein of the Jerusalem Magistrates Court also ordered Yair Netanyahu, to delete the tweet, which called on his more than 88,000 followers to demonstrate in front of the homes of the protest leaders.
“I instruct him to refrain for the next six months from harassing the petitioners in every shape, way and form,” Judge Feinstein wrote in her decision.
The ruling came a day after large crowds of protesters across the country demanded Mr. Netanyahu’s ouster, criticizing his handling of the economic and health problems stemming from the coronavirus and arguing that he should not be permitted to serve as prime minister while under indictment on corruption charges.
The judge said in her decision that she was concerned the prime minister’s son would continue to harass the petitioners and infringe on their privacy, adding that he did not rebuke calls for violence that were posted in response to his tweet.
One of the protest leaders, Yitzhak Ben Gonen, who represented himself and the two other petitioners, said that Yair Netanyahu’s tweet prompted incessant phone calls, and that each of the three received death threats from callers.
“We are very happy about this legal victory, but the threats keep coming,” said Mr. Ben Gonen, who is a member of A New Contract, an anti-Netanyahu group popularly known as “Crime Minister.” The group says Mr. Netanyahu should not be able to serve as prime minister while on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The trial got underway in May, and is still in its initial stages.
Later Sunday, the younger Mr. Netanyahu deleted the tweet, but in a series of other social media posts, he strongly criticized the court’s ruling, calling it Kafkaesque.
He also contended that courts in Israel would one day ban Israelis from voting for his father’s Likud party and order all those on the political right placed in “re-education camps.”
“For a long time, Israel hasn’t been a democratic state,” he wrote in another post, remarking that a petitioner, Haim Shadmi, had been recorded speaking about hurling a firebomb at the prime minister’s official residence but that Mr. Shadmi was still permitted to protest near it. “There’s a law for right-wingers and another law for left-wingers,” the Facebook post said.
Yair Netanyahu, 29, is a fierce defender of his father and has a history of stoking controversy through his social media posts, some of which even the prime minister has condemned.
In December 2018, the son wrote on Facebook that he wished the deaths of two Israeli soldiers killed by a Palestinian gunman in the West Bank would be “avenged,” adding, “There will never be peace with the monsters in human form known since 1964 as ‘Palestinians.’” In a separate post at the time, he wrote that he would prefer an Israel without Muslim residents.
Facebook removed those posts following a flurry of complaints. It said they included hate speech and violated its community standards.
In February, Yair Netanyahu posted on Twitter a picture of a young Israeli, Dana Cassidy, who had been photographed earlier with Benny Gantz, the leader of the Blue and White party. He also posted unsubstantiated accusations that Mr. Gantz engaged in extramarital affairs.
The posts prompted some of the son’s followers to spread unfounded rumors that Ms. Cassidy and Mr. Gantz were having an affair.
Mr. Gantz has repeatedly clashed with the prime minister even though they are now coalition partners.
And in a tweet in May, the prime minister’s son questioned how Dana Weiss, a well-known Israeli journalist, got her job at Channel 12, a major Israeli television outlet. That tweet led some of Yair Netanyahu’s followers to make unsubstantiated allegations that Ms. Weiss had sexual relations with her bosses to get her position.
The son apologized for that tweet — after Ms. Weiss and Channel 12 threatened to file a lawsuit against him.
Mr. Ben Gonen, the lawyer representing his fellow protest leaders, said he sensed that the protests were gaining momentum. “We see young people, who are very angry about the situation in Israel and determined to change it,” he said. “It’s too early to determine if we will change everything, but I feel that something important and new is happening.”
Is the world ready for the Great Schism?
The events of the past year brought American and Israeli Jews ever closer to a breaking point. President Trump, beloved in Israel and decidedly unloved by a majority of American Jews, moved the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May, with the fiery evangelical pastors John Hagee and Robert Jeffress consecrating the ceremony.
In October, after the murder of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, President Trump went to that city to pay his respects. Members of the Jewish community there, in near silent mourning, came out to protest Mr. Trump’s arrival, declaring that he was not welcome until he gave a national address to renounce the rise of white nationalism and its attendant bigotry.
The only public official to greet the president at the Tree of Life was Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer.
At a Hanukkah celebration at the White House last month, the president raised eyebrows and age-old insinuations of dual loyalties when he told American Jews at the gathering that his vice president had great affection for “your country,” Israel.
Yossi Klein Halevi, the American-born Israeli author, has framed this moment starkly: Israeli Jews believe deeply that President Trump recognizes their existential threats. In scuttling the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which many Israelis saw as imperiling their security, in moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in basically doing whatever the government of Benjamin Netanyahu asks, they see a president of the United States acting to save their lives.
American Jews, in contrast, see President Trump as their existential threat, a leader who they believe has stoked nationalist bigotry, stirred anti-Semitism and, time and time again, failed to renounce the violent hatred swirling around his political movement. The F.B.I. reports that hate crimes in the United States jumped 17 percent in 2017, with a 37 percent spike in crimes against Jews and Jewish institutions.
When neither side sees the other as caring for its basic well-being, “that is a gulf that cannot be bridged,” Michael Siegel, the head rabbi at Chicago’s conservative Anshe Emet Synagogue, told me recently. He is an ardent Zionist.
To be sure, a vocal minority of Jews in Israel remain queasy about the American president, just as a vocal minority of Jews in the United States strongly support him. But more than 75 percent of American Jews voted for the Democrats in the midterm elections; 69 percent of Israelis have a positive view of the United States under Mr. Trump, up from 49 percent in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. Israel is one of the few developed countries where opinion about the United States has improved since Mr. Trump took office.
Part of the distance between Jews in the United States and Israeli Jews may come from the stance that Israel’s leader is taking on the world stage. Mr. Netanyahu has
- embraced the increasingly authoritarian Hungarian leader Victor Orban, who ran a blatantly anti-Semitic re-election campaign. He has
- aligned himself with ultranationalists like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines,
- Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and a
- Polish government that passed a law making it a crime to suggest the Poles had any responsibility for the Holocaust. The Israeli prime minister was one of the very few world leaders who reportedly
- ran interference for the Trump administration after the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and urged President Trump to maintain his alliance with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. Mr. Netanyahu’s
- son Yair was temporarily kicked off Facebook for writing that he would “prefer” that “all the Muslims leave the land of Israel.” Last month,
- with multiple corruption investigations closing in on him and his conservative coalition fracturing, Mr. Netanyahu called for a snap election in April, hoping to fortify his political standing. If past is prologue, his election campaign will again challenge American Jewry’s values. As his 2015 campaign came to a close, Mr. Netanyahu
- darkly warned his supporters that “the right-wing government is in danger — Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves,” adding with a Trumpian flourish that left-wing organizations “are bringing them in buses.”