Yair Netanyahu slammed for tweet blasting Rabin for role in Altalena Affair

Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz blamed the prime minister for his son’s tweet although Netanyahu distanced himself from them immediately.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Prime Minister’s Benjamin Netanyahu’s son, Yair, raised the ire of Israel’s left when he slammed the assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin for his role in the Altalena Affair, in which a gun ship bringing weapons to Israel was destroyed off the Tel Aviv beach.

Although the prime minister said he disagreed with the tweet, left-wing leaders held him responsible.

Yair, a proficient Twitter user who uses the platform to defend his father’s record and right-wing political views, had tweeted: “Rabin murdered Holocaust survivors on the Altalena. Rabin brought Arafat and tens of thousands of terrorists from Tunis and caused the deaths of 2,000 Israelis.”

The prime minister distanced himself from his son’s post on Saturday night, in a statement put out by his spokesman, Ofer Golan.

“I do not agree with what my son Yair wrote about the late Yitzhak Rabin. Yair’s positions are his alone and made on his own,” the statement said.

Labor-Gesher head Amir Peretz dismissed the prime minister’s disavowal, telling a Tel Aviv rally on Saturday night, “Don’t get confused. The hands on the keyboard are Yair’s but the voice is Netanyahu’s voice. The Netanyahu family never got off the balcony.”

Peretz was referring to a 1995 right-wing protest against the Oslo Accords, where as leader of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu spoke from a hotel balcony in Jerusalem’s Zion Square, where,  in Peretz’s words, “posters of Rabin in an SS uniform [were] below him.”

Although Netanyahu has always maintained that he never saw the posters, and publicly rejected any cries of ‘Rabin, Traitor’ during protests at that time, Peretz nevertheless appeared to point the finger at Netanyahu for the assassination, saying that “political figures behind [Amir], including an opposition leader” with “a huge, hate-filled apparatus of incitement and delegitimization” were responsible for Rabin’s death.

Peretz also said Yair was “more dangerous than [Rabin assassin] Yigal Amir” as Amir was behind bars. He said Yair’s post is “an incitement to hurt anyone who doesn’t think like them. I urge the police to act quickly and with all their might to block this Twitter account before it is too late.”

Despite the outcry, there is apparently an element of truth to Yair’s words. According to the historical record, Rabin had fired on a ship bringing arms to Israel in June, 1948. The ship, the Altalena, was organized by the Irgun, a Jewish underground group which Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion was determined to eliminate, seeing it as a threat to the state.

Rabin commanded the IDF and Palmach forces on the shore.

Ship’s captain Monroe Fein recalled, “As men began jumping off the ship and swimming toward the shore, those of us still on shipboard saw that they were being shot at continuously from rifles and machine guns on the beach.”

The firing continued even after Monroe raised a white flag on the ship’s bridge.

Israeli Attorney Yoram Sheftel, a pundit who often weighs in on political issues on TV and in print, referred to the issue on Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday. He said Yair’s tweet had been correct.

“At Rabin’s instruction, 900 passengers on the Altalena were fired at, many of whom were Holocaust survivors. They shot at them even as they jumped into the water. Rabin gave the order to shoot at Holocaust survivors. That is the story, and there is no denying it,” he said.