Court says Netanyahu’s son must pay damages to woman he implied had affair with his father’s rival


JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s son must compensate a woman who sued him after he implied she was having an affair with his father’s chief political opponent, a court ruled Wednesday.

The court ordered Netanyahu’s eldest son, Yair Netanyahu, to pay over $34,000 in compensation and $6,000 in legal costs to Dana Cassidy. Cassidy sued him for defamation in 2020 after he insinuated on social media that she was romantically involved with Benny Gantz, who was running against his father for prime minister at the time.

Over the course of the election, which ultimately returned Benjamin Netanyahu to leadership, Yair Netanyahu posted a series of unsubstantiated statements implying that Gantz was having extramarital affairs, according to the ruling.

“The insinuation that the young activist had an intimate relationship with the head of the party, a married man who is decades older than her, could humiliate her and make her a target of hatred, contempt or ridicule,” Judge Ronen Peleg wrote in the ruling.

Yair Netanyahu first posted a screenshot of Cassidy’s Facebook profile on the platform “X,” formerly known as Twitter, writing “Does anyone know who this is?”

He then reposted an article with a photo of Cassidy and Gantz hugging at a political event for Blue and White, Gantz’s centrist political party. At the time, Cassidy was an active member. The bottom of the picture says, “he made me a cup of tea and it turned me on,” according to the ruling.

In the post, Yair Netanyahu wrote, “to each his own cup of tea.”

Cassidy has told Israeli media in the past that she dealt with a flood of online harassment in the wake of the posts. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

“The son of the prime minister ought to exert self-control,” Peleg wrote in the ruling, calling Yair Netanyahu “evasive and stammering.”

Yair Netanyahu, who has served as a close informal adviser to his father, is known for posting incendiary messages on social media and has been involved in several defamation cases over the years. Earlier this year, a judge ordered him to pay $18,000 to a former lawmaker in Israel’s opposition Labor Party whom he called “ugly.”

Benjamin Netanyahu heads Israel’s far-right government, which includes a number of lawmakers and ministers with close ties to his son.

Israeli media reported earlier this year that the prime minister and his wife, Sara, have urged Yair Netanyahu to stop posting on social media.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s office did not comment on the ruling.

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