After confirming earlier this week a Channel 13 report about his family’s expenses, which included NIS 24,700 ($7,476) a month on food orders, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Wednesday morning announced on Facebook that he will start financing the meals for his family members out of his own pocket.
When commenting on the Channel 13 report, Bennet noted that his predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, spent on food (cooks plus takeout) per month NIS 37,000 ($11,199). He also pointed out that the Netanyahu household included only three, his family is comprised of himself, his wife Gilat, and their four children.
He then took a jab at his archrival, telling his Facebook friends: “There’s a move here to portray everyone as corrupt. But I’m not Bibi, Gilat is not Sara, my children aren’t Yair.” To the reader overseas this may appear like an innocent comparison, but in Israel’s popular culture, Sara Netanyahu is often portrayed as a domineering, ruthless person, and Yair has had his unpleasant media exposure that involved revealing taped conversations in the back of a limo on a Friday night of club hopping.
On Wednesday morning, presumably while being chauffeured to his Jerusalem office from his Ra’anana home, Bennett posted on Facebook: “I have always believed that listening to criticism does not reduce one’s prestige. On the contrary – it is a privilege. Even though my conduct was in keeping with protocol, I am aware of the feelings that have been created in the public. Therefore, I informed my office staff that from now on, all my family’s food expenses would be paid out of my personal account. I am not in my position for money or honor but to serve the citizens of Israel with all my might, and I will continue to do so.”
One sushi takeout at a time…
There’s something shrill and annoying about Bennett’s little lectures on political propriety. It’s not that he’s wrong, it’s just that one can’t help feeling patronized. Especially since most of Bennett’s voters don’t begrudge him his scarfing down at the taxpayer’s expense of sushi, burgers, falafel, and whatever else his tummy desires (by the way, have you noticed how his tummy and face have grown since taking office?). What they mind is his inability to stand up to leftwing enemies of the settlement enterprise such as Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the entire Labor, Meretz, and Ra’am rhythm section.
Finally, after the initial Bennett post comparing his and Bibi’s expenses, it was reported that his fellow Yamina faction members (there aren’t so many of them these days) disapproved of the shenanigans and blamed the PM’s political advisor, Shimrit Meir for the entire project. Meir is not part of the religious Zionist family, in fact, her roots are further to the left, with a focus on Arab affairs. Bennett has had a tendency to pick candidates and staff he believes would endear him to the mainstream Israeli public, such as Amichai Chikli whom he just declared a rogue MK, and before that, when he offered a spot on his election slate to former Beitar Yerushalaim striker Eli Ohana. All these moves don’t increase Bennett’s appeal to the floating center, but they sure lose him support from his right-wing home base.