After facing harsh criticism over his son’s non-Jewish Norwegian girlfriend, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has reportedly denied the relationship between the two.
According to a Tuesday evening report on Channel 10 News, Netanyahu’s bureau chief spoke to Shas chairman MK Aryeh Deri and made clear that Yair Netanyahu and Sandra Leikanger were not dating and were only studying together.
The bureau chief also denied that Netanyahu had told Norway’s Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, of his son’s holiday in Norway with Leikanger.
Deri was one of many people who commented on the reports of Yair Netanyahu’s relationship with a non-Jew, telling the hareidi-religious radio station Kol Barama on Monday that while he doesn't like to talk about personal topics, the relationship of the prime minister's son isn't just a personal matter, because Netanyahu is a "symbol of the Jewish people."
"I know friends of mine who invest tens of millions and more, hundreds of millions to fight assimilation in the world," commented Deri. "If G-d forbid it's true, woe to us. ...I hope it's not true."
Bentzi Gopshtain, director of Lehava, a Jewish education group fighting assimilation in Israel, published a letter to Netanyahu on his Facebook page Sunday. There he called on Netanyahu "to prevent this relationship."
Addressing the prime minister, Gopshtain wrote "the consequences of your son's actions, despite his being private individual, are far-reaching, both in terms of your family personally and in more national terms as well."
"On the personal level, his children - your grandchildren, as you certainly know, will not be Jews; their name may be Netanyahu, but Netanyahu the non-Jew. On the national level, this is the son of the prime minister of Israel, the state of the Jewish nation, who will join the six million (lost Jews in the Holocaust) as Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir declared," noted Gopshtain.
The Lehava director further criticized the hypocrisy of Netanyahu in "investing millions" in preventing assimilation among Jews outside of Israel, and yet providing an example and encouragement for the phenomenon from the prime minister's house in Jerusalem.