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Friday, September 22, 2023

Protesters troll PM’s US visit with critical bio on netanyahu.org

An anti-judicial overhaul protest group has acquired the online domain netanyahu.org and built a website critiquing the government and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an act of online trolling to coincide with the premier’s visit to the United States.

Protesters opposed to the coalition’s proposals to shackle the country’s judiciary have hounded Netanyahu since he landed in the US.

The website, all in English and launched on Monday, boasts a biography of Netanyahu detailing his political career and his personal controversies and legal cases. The site also has short, and mostly disapproving, descriptions of the ministers in his government.

“Instead of the false propaganda Netanyahu is trying to market to the world and to Israelis, the site will have facts about his racist government,” the group said, adding the page has “vital information about the government of incitement and the judicial overhaul.”

“Aside from a biography of the man, we created a mini Wikipedia about the most corrupt and extreme government in the history of Israel. For us, it’s a proper reflection of reality,” they added.

The prime minister’s biography on the website lays out investigations against him in the 1990s as “his early work,” including matters in which Netanyahu wasn’t charged, as well as his ongoing corruption trial. Netanyahu has denied all accusations against him.

Protesters rally outside Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits with businessman Elon Musk on September 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The site also lays out Netanyahu and his wife Sara’s “extravagant lifestyle at the taxpayer’s expense,” and the “multiple controversies” of their adult son Yair.

Many of his ministers’ biographies were accompanied by information about unsavory associations or behavior over the years.

For Justice Minister Yariv Levin, the architect of the judicial overhaul, the site describes “a scandal” in which he “attended a Purim celebration with Raffi Chaim-Kedoshim, a convicted criminal involved in kidnapping, extortion, and previous imprisonments.”

In a screenshot from video, Justice Minister Yariv Levin (center in black jacket) is seen greeting Rafi Chaim-Kedoshim during a Purim party at the latter’s home in Herzliya. In the foreground on the right is Energy Minister Israel Katz. (Twitter screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s section describes several of his extremist activities, including a 2005 detention when he was suspected of involvement in a plot to blow up cars on the Ayalon Highway while protesting the Gaza disengagement. He was released without any charges being brought.

“In 2006, he helped organize the ‘Beast Parade’ as part of protests against a gay pride parade in Jerusalem. After the 2023 Huwara rampage on February 26, 2023, Smotrich said, ‘I believe that the village of Huwara should be wiped out. I believe that the State of Israel should do so and not, God forbid, ordinary individuals,’” the site reads. Smotrich later walked back the comments.

Not all the descriptions are negative, with some ministers, such as Nir Barkat, simply described as the economy minister. Interior and Health Minister Moshe Arbel is credited with the “notable achievement” of releasing a backlog in passport applications.

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