Monday, January 25, 2010

1 Million Shekels Over a Gardener?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah are suing Ma'ariv for libel. They are seeking one million shekels (about $270,000) in damages from the newspaper for reporting that an elderly gardener in the Prime Minister's Residence was fired by the Netanyahus when they moved in last year. Ma'ariv described the gardener as a bereaved father who performed basic gardening tasks for less than minimum wage. The Netanyahus claim in their suit that the report is not true and the gardener is still working at the official residence. Ma'ariv, the newspaper with the second largest circulation in Israel, has not responded to the suit yet.

Even if Ma'ariv published a bogus report, why sue them? Why not just complain to the Israeli Press Council, as Netanyahu did regarding Yediot Ahronot and its report about Lillian Peretz's lawsuit against Sarah Netanyahu?

When the prime minister sues a newspaper it stinks. When he sues a newspaper over such an unimportant issue as whether or not a damn gardener was fired - it stinks even more. It looks like Netanyahu is trying to intimidate the press so it stops reporting on his wife's and his own conduct. I hope this suit is thrown out by the courts.

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