Shalom Life | July 01, 2014

Op-Ed: Leave Yair Alone

Yair Netanyahu has been embroiled in controversy over dating a Norwegian girl, with religious officials steaming at the relationship: but is it really such a big deal?

By: Daniel Koren

Published: January 29th, 2014 in News » World

During the weekend, as I was making my rounds of those news agencies I tend to frequent, I was somewhat disappointed – though certainly not surprised – as I saw what was #trending in Israel news: Yair Netanyahu and his new lady friend, who apparently isn’t Jewish.

I thought to myself, this is probably all anyone’s going to be talking about in the news this week. Religious groups will be in an uproar, arguing that this sort of ‘assimilation’ will destroy the Jewish homeland. And here we are, Wednesday January 29th, 2014, and thus far my premonitions are correct.

In a mere few hours since the news was reported by Norwegian daily Dagen, stating that the Israeli PM told Norwegian PM Erna Solberg that the two had been dating for two months, a nation-wide manhunt for Yair was already feverishly en route, demanding that the Prime Minister acknowledge his son’s boorish behaviour at this, the most holiest of betrayals – dating Sandra Leikanger, a Norwegian-born Evangelical Christian 25-year-old.

Upon learning of the relationship, Dr. Hagai Ben-Artzi, Yair’s uncle, brother to Sara Netanyahu (the PM’s third wife) said the 23-year-old was “spitting on the grave of his grandfather and grandmother.”

“It’s a big problem,” added Nissim Ze’ev, from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, to the Jerusalem Post. “As the prime minister of Israel and the Jewish people, he must display national responsibility via the values he presents inside his own household.”

“Any Jew who wants to maintain his roots wants to see his son marry a Jewish girl,” he added. “There is no shortage of beautiful, successful girls without sowing in the fields of others.”

A member of Netanyahu’s own Likud Party, Moshe Feiglin, stated “All I can say is that it is very unfortunate.”

While such rhetoric coming from the mouths of right-wing Israeli nationalists does not surprise me, let us not forget that Yair’s father, and Israel’s current Prime Minister, married a non-Jewish girl.

Netanyahu’s British-born second wife, Fleur Cates, may have converted to Judaism, but that was in time for her wedding to Bibi. Furthermore, their marriage only lasted for three years.

If his own father’s bouts of ‘disrespectful conduct’ weren’t enough to stop religious Jews from voting for him, not to mention having two divorces, which the Orthodox sect obviously wouldn’t think highly of either, then why is Yair being embroiled in controversy for something that, for all we know, may just be a casual fling?

Binyamin Lipkin, editor of haredi newspaper Hamevaser, criticized Netanyahu for ‘bragging’ about Yair and Sandra’s relationship.

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