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Daily Israel Report

Top Leftist Journalist: Sarah Netanyahu Runs the Country

Ben Caspit, fired from Maariv, says Prime Minister's wife is the most powerful person in Israel.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 12/6/2012, 12:44 AM

Sarah Netanyahu
Sarah Netanyahu
Flash 90

Ben Caspit, one of Israel's best-known leftist journalists, also known for his hatred of Netanyahu, said in an interview published in Lady Globes Tuesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's wife, Sarah, is "the most powerful person in Israel."

Caspit's animosity toward Netanyahu often appears visceral and mean and may be one of the reasons that he was recently fired from Maariv, where he has written since 1985, after the newspaper's new owner took over.

Several accusations that Ben Caspit and Maariv have made against the Netanyahus are the subjects of libel suits that are still pending. These include unfounded claims that an elderly gardener at the Netanyahus' home was fired improperly and that the couple held extravagant meals during their travels. His writing against Netanyahu has a particularly nasty tone that is in contrast with accepted journalistic criticism..

At the recent Israel Media Conference in Eilat, he was told by a participant that his tone is so vicious and out of bounds when writing or speaking about Netanyahu, that it has the opposite effect and causes readers to wish to defend the Prime Minister. He voiced the claim about the Prime Minister's wife there as well.

Caspit's latest claim is that Sarah Netanyahu is more powerful than her husband, the prime minister. "Things are decided according to her will. Her husband cannot meet people whom she does not want him to meet… She has his operating program," he said.

According to Caspit, Naftali Bennett, who now chairs the Bayit Yehudi party, left his position as Netanyahu's chief of staff because of friction with Sarah. "Why did Naftali Bennett and his people leave Netanyahu's bureau? Bennett told me: 'We sat for months and planned a move with the prime minister, and then he comes back after the weekend, and says – 'Sarah is against it,' and cancels everything.'" Bennett did not affirm the story.

Binyamin Netanyahu said after the release of Sgt. Gilad Schalit that it was his wife who convinced him to carry out the move for emotional reasons.

Lady Globes tried to get a response from the Netanyahus, but they refused to provide one.

In Netanyahu's first term, Sarah-bashing was a common pasttime in the mianstream Israeli media. This term it seems mostly to be confined to Caspit.