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Opinion: A Lawsuit with Chutzpah

The prime minister's wife is an easy target. Every disgruntled worker can have at her, even if his complaints are completely false.
By Uzi Baruch
First Publish: 3/20/2014, 10:05 PM

The Netanyahus
The Netanyahus
Flash 90

1. Like the rising sun in the morning, the wagtail that heralds the fall season in Israel, and allergies in the spring, every year or two we face a lawsuit by a disgruntled employee in the Netanyahus' residence. The pattern is fixed, the complaints repeat themselves, and only the lawyers change occasionally.

I do not know Sarah Netanyahu, and it is quite possible that she is not a particularly easy person to get along with, but Israeli media has made her such an easy target for attacks, that former employees can't withstand the temptation.

2. This time the lawsuit is being brought by Menahem Naftali, who used to be a guard at the Prime Minister's Residence and was later hired to work as household manager there. But it is not clear what Mr. Naftali wants. On the one hand, he complains of suffering abusive behavior by Mrs. Netanyahu, and on the other, the lawsuit was filed after the employers refused to yield to his request for a promotion.

Who wants tenure in a place where he suffers abuse?

One can't shake the impression that inserting Sarah Netanyahu into the lawsuit was meant to guarantee it press coverage. After all, no one would be interested in a lawsuit over matters of tenure and extra hours – matters which actually constitute the main portion of Naftali's lawsuit.

By mentioning Sarah Netanyahu, the desired media exposure was achieved.

3. As for the actual claims, it should be said that a household manager who buys milk in a plastic bag instead of a carton is not doing his job properly. Sarah Netanyahu is absolutely right in saying that this would not have happened in the White House or the Élysée Palace. Israelis are experts at doing everything “more or less” like they were asked to, and it appears that Mr. Naftali, at least as far as his own testimony in the lawsuit shows, is no different.

While it is true that I would not have woken up someone at 3 a.m. over that, I understand why it is annoying and why it would lead to a very unpleasant reprimand. This is not a regular household helper – a household manager in the Prime Minister's Residence has to be top-notch.

4. The alleged anti-Sephardic prejudice that was also worked into the lawsuit is starting to grate on the nerves. Usually, when people talk about the Moroccan community and the amount of food that its members like to eat, the connotation is a positive one. Even if it is said in criticism, it is probable that there was no malice here. However, any reference to one's ethnic background is politically incorrect and could give the complainant some extra points in public opinion and in the court.

5. No one knows if the rumor that has been spreading, according to which Naftali carried out recordings in the prime minister's house, is true or not. I would like to believe that it is an utter falsehood. But if it is true, Naftali should be thrown into jail. It's as simple as that. Secretly recording in the prime minister's residence is unacceptable, in any situation. If the prime minister can't feel free even when he is at home, we will get prime ministers who are unable to discharge their duties.