(August 13, 2020 / Israel Hayom) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, said on Wednesday that the growing violence shown by protesters outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem has made her fear for her safety and her family’s well-being.
Tens of thousands of Israelis have been staging weekly protests in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and other major cities across the country demanding that the prime minister resign over his policies and handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying that he should not remain in office while on trial for corruption.
In a rare interview with Channel 12 News, Sara Netanyahu said, “I am a battered woman and my children are battered.”
A day earlier, she filed a police complaint about death threats made against her during one of the protests and about sexual harassment by a Twitter user.
“There are hooligans and anarchists who shout ‘death to Bibi and Sara,’ ” she said of the protesters. “My protection detail is relatively small, and remember—I’m out of the house a lot. In one of the protests, demonstrators tried throwing torches at the house. They broke a police detective’s legs.”
Netanyahu said she wouldn’t wish the fear that her family has been experiencing on anyone.
“They [the protesters] go into great detail about how they plan to kill us, how they will dismember my children. These are horrific things. I didn’t hear anybody condemning that. People are going to die,” she warned. “I condemn any violence on the Right. I don’t want to hear calls such as ‘death to Arabs’ or ‘death to leftists.’ Most right-wing demonstrators protest in an orderly fashion, with slogans and flags. I can hear them. If there is a rogue minority—the prime minister and I condemn it.”
Commenting on the sexual harassment complaint that she filed, Netanyahu said of a senior female police officer who arrived at the Prime Minister’s Residence to discuss the issue: “I clearly feel that I have been sexually harassed, and this is how people who file sexual harassment complaints should be treated.”
She further criticized center-left lawmakers for failing to condemn the lewd sexual comments launched at her during protests and on social media.
“I also haven’t heard [Defense Minister Benny] Gantz or [Foreign Minister Gabi] Ashkenazi condemn the sexual violence against me, and I would expect members of Knesset who profess to champion women’s rights, such as Merav Michaeli [Labor] and Tamar Zandberg [Meretz] to speak up.”
Sara Netanyahu slammed the media for what she called “pushing false narratives” about her family, while seemingly ignoring scandals involving Opposition lawmakers.
“What is this hypocrisy? End the shaming against me, my husband and children. In the end, we are people and we also have souls,” she said.
She went on to deny rumors that her health was failing, calling them “fake news.” She stressed that observing coronavirus directives prompted her to cancel many official engagements, which is why she has been relatively absent from the public eye.
The interview vexed women’s rights groups, who said that the way the prime minister’s wife used terms such as “battered,” “abused” and “harassed” was callous.
Hagit Pe’er, head of the Naamat women’s rights organization, told Channel 12 News, “Mrs. Netanyahu is not a battered woman. This is a cheapening of the concept, and Mrs. Netanyahu, who has visited women’s shelters in the past, knows this.”
The Kulan feminist advocacy group tweeted, “Sara Netanyahu is not a battered woman, period. The choice by the Netanyahus to cynically exploit the fight against domestic violence makes us despair. Women’s organizations, which are fighting to protect all women, have become a punching bag for the prime minister, who has been ignoring our outcry for years. The Netanyahu family will not be the ones to teach us that violent misogyny is a terrible plight against which we must fight.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
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