Freed Israeli Naama Issachar deletes post that neglected to thank Netanyahu

Social media erupted after the backpacker who was brought back on the prime minister’s plane from a Russian jail didn’t list him among those to whom she was grateful.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Naama Issachar deleted on Wednesday the Facebook post she had written to thank people for their efforts to free her from Russian prison, due to the wave of criticism she faced for not including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on her list of those who deserved her gratitude.

As one critic noted in Maariv, “It seems that you forgot something, I suggest you edit the post and add a thank-you to Israel’s prime minister, yes, it was only because of him, because without him but with all those whom you did thank, the maximum you would have gotten was a reduced sentence. Ingratitude is an unacceptable phenomenon.”

Issachar had also been chastised by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Sunday for leaving Netanyahu out. Channel 12 reported that PMO director Asher Hayoun called Issachar’s mother to complain.

Her mother then added a post to clarify the issue, saying that it was simply a misunderstanding that she regretted.

“It was important to us to separate the thanks to the prime minister and his wife and the staff of the Prime Minister’s Office who did amazing work and accompanied us with professionalism and understanding, and the activists in the headquarters of the struggle. I sincerely and truly felt that it was not appropriate to express our thanks to the prime minister in the same post, because it wouldn’t be respectful enough. An unfortunate misunderstanding was created,” Yaffa Issachar wrote.

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“I understand that the opposite occurred,” she continued. “I, my family and the staff of the headquarters regret this. It was not our intention! We are grateful to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah, their efforts to return Naama are not self-understood, we’ll never forget it.”

This post has also been deleted, and access to the activists’ page that had been set up on her behalf was blocked.

Issachar had been sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for allegedly smuggling a total of nine grams of marijuana into the country when it was found in her checked luggage as she was waiting for her flight to Israel last year.

Netanyahu brought her case repeatedly to the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the months following her conviction in the summer. After Putin pardoned Issachar in a gesture of friendship to the prime minister, Netanyahu even brought her back to Israel in his own plane.

Issachar had written that she had been “wondering how to thank” all the people who had prayed, sent letters and done “a million other things that I know I’m not aware of.”