Netanyahu takes witness stand, denies his wife kicked him out of their car

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied in court Tuesday that his wife Sara once kicked him out of their car, as the Netanyahus defended their 280,000-shekel ($76,500) libel suit against an Israeli journalist.

The Netanyahus were testifying in their suit against Yedioth Ahronoth’s Igal Sarna, who wrote on Facebook that Sara once kicked her husband out of their car during a ride on the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway.

“Everything Sarna said was a lie, it didn’t happen,” the prime minister told the court.

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Sarna once wrote that “it’s part of life” when “the prime minister’s hefty convoy stops at night (it happened) − four black vehicles and more and more security men, guards and cars − and a not-so-young man is ejected with shouts into the darkness on Route 1 because one woman doesn’t want him to remain with her in the car and makes a mockery of all the security and in fact all the country.”

Sarna added in his criticism of the Netanyahus: “Make every possible sound so we don’t hear everything going up in the flames of madness. Beat the drums.”  

But Netanyahu told the court: “Anyone who knows anything about motorcade security knows that something like that can’t happen.”

The defense asked Netanyahu whether he followed Sarna’s posts on Facebook against him, and whether the criticism had any effect on his decision to file the suit.

Israeli journalist Yigal Sarna arrives at the court before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara (not seen) arrive to testify in a libel lawsuit they filed against Sarna, at the Magistrate Court in Tel Aviv, Israel March 14, 2017.
Yigal SarnaMoti Milrod

“It’s hard to follow so much crazy, surreal slander,” Netanyahu replied. “I have other business to attend to. I can’t even dedicate a moment of my time to this deluge.”

Netanyahu added that while other posts adhered to free speech, the post in question was libel. “If I had to sue Mr. Sarna for every libelous remark I’d spend all my time in court,” Netanyahu said.

Avigdor Feldman, a lawyer for Sarna, asked if Netanyahu would file another suit.

“Who knows. When you’re having fun, why not?” he replied.

Taking the stand next, Sara Netanyahu called the Facebook post “horrendous” and “surreal.” “It has no connection to reality,” she told the court.

Feldman showed Netanyahu news articles about her that he said were untrue, and asked why she never filed a suit. “If I had to sue over every lie that was said about me for the last 20 years, I would have had to be in court every day, every hour, every minute,” she replied.

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Mrs. Netanyahu said that her charity efforts are never reported on, and blamed journalists for perceiving her as a means to depose the prime minister. “I’m the weak link,” she said, adding that Sarna “is not only surreal and a liar, but also borders on inhumanity.”  

Testifying before the Netanyahus, Sarna said he had four sources for his Facebook post, including a friend of a member of Netanyahu’s security detail.

When asked by the prosecution whether he was certain the event took place, Sarna said “today more than ever,” adding that he did not offer the story to his newspaper because “it’s not a big story, it’s a small story, there are dozens of stories around about beatings and screams.”

When accused by the prosecution that he did not try to verify the story, Sarna said he did but would not reveal his sources.

“He checked! He checked!” the prime minister interjected in jest. Sarna added that he could not produce witnesses to corroborate the story because “people are refusing to come, they’re afraid.”

The Netanyahus said Sarna had committed an injustice against them in a “disgusting, cynical, low, mean and inordinate” way designed “to shame the plaintiffs, revile them and embarrass them publicly via ugly and false reports that don’t have an iota of truth to them.”

Sarna also said his post expressed something “entirely true, published in good faith based on proper and reliable sources, and bearing characteristics similar or identical to known episodes in the Netanyahus’ family life.”

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