Benjamin Netanhayu Secret Tape Scandal Involves an Alleged Betrayal of Sheldon Adelson
An ongoing scandal involving a secret taped conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and one of his country’s top media moguls has surfaced in Israel. The tape includes a deal that would involve the shutting down Israel Hayom, a newspaper owned by Netanyahu’s patron, Las Vegas Sands mogul Sheldon Adelson.
If true, the tape would indicate a major shift in allegiances in the political-media arena in Israel. Many on the right believe the media mogul was seeking to bribe Netanyahu, but blame Arnon Mozes for the exchange, because the media member is a political opponent of the prime minister’s.
The reports suggest that a tape exists of a conversation between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, owner of the Yedioth Ahronoth publishing group and the Ynet newspaper, negotiating a deal that would benefit both men. Part of the deal would involve Yedioth Ahronoth giving favorable coverage to PM Netanyahu.
Tape of Netanyahu-Mozes Conversation
In return, it is suggested that Benjamin Netanyahu offers financial and business advantages to Arnon Mozes. The major advantage would involve the prime minister shutting down all or parts of Israel Hayom, the newspaper with the widest circulation in Israel.
Arnon Mozes said he would hire a number of Netanyahu proxies at his papers and provide unlimited positive coverage, if the prime minister passed laws in the Knesset that would force Sheldon Adelson’s newspaper to sell papers, instead of give them away for free.
The rumored tape would be a blockbuster for several different reasons. One, such a negotiation would be shockingly cynical from the perspective of a free press. Two, it would show Benjamin Netanyahu betraying his longstanding supporter and patron. Israel Hayom is a free newspaper, so Sheldon Adelson has spent millions upon millions of dollars to support the Netanyahu Administration and the conservative Likud Party.
Haaretz Story on the Scandal
Haaretz, the liberal Israeli newspaper which is the oldest news publication in the country, compared the news to the American people learning about a secret deal between Donald Trump and media outlets like CNN and FoxNews. Those with knowledge of Israel’s politics suggest the scandal could cause the fall of Bibi Netanyahu’s administration.
Fall of Netanyahu’s Government?
The scandal comes at a time when Netanyahu could ill-afford the bad press. The prime minister’s adminstration is mired in several scandals, including one involving the prime minister’s wife.
Several respected news sources have speculated the election of Donald Trump in the United States paradoxically could hurt Benjamin Netanyahu. Mondoweiss published a story called “Trump May Kill Netanyahu with Kindess“, which described how the Israeli prime minister has maintained power in Israel for 8 years by convincing the electorate only he could deal with a hostile Barack Obama administration.
Mondoweiss Story on Netanyahu
In the absence of Obama, Mondoweiss’s Jonathan Cook speculated that Israeli’s might prefer to turn to a less proven politician like Education Minister Neftali Bennett, because Bennett’s policies more closely conform to Trump’s. Americans might think of Benjamin Netanyahu as a far right-wing politician, but he is considered a moderate in his own right-wing Likud Party. A variety of younger politicians call for a more hardline stance in dealings with the Palestinians.
The pundit speculated that the Likud Party’s voters have been unwilling to trust less-seasoned leaders in recent years, because they feared turning the country over to Bennett or one of his peers during a time of perceived danger. With Donald Trump providing a more unqualified support for Israel, the Likud Party and Israeli conservatives might think it is time for Netanyahu to go.
Netanyahu: “Systematic Smear Campaign”
If the reports are true, Sheldon Adelson would almost certainly see the act as a betrayal. It should be repeated that the supposed videotape of the negotiation has not been released to the press, so it might well be that no tape exists.
For his part, Benjamin Netanyahu has adamantly denied the charges, because he knows how seriously it would undermine his relationship with Adelson. He claims the entire story is a smear campaign by Arnon Mozes.
Netanyahu said the story is “a systematic smear campaign against a sitting prime minister, in order to replace the government in Israel, for the sake of obvious business interests and personal profit.”
Rivalry between Adelson and Mozes
The motive exists for Arnon Mozes to damage the relationship. His rivalry with Adelson is well-known. Yedioth Ahronoth was the dominant newspaper for generations in Israel. It was founded in 1939 and has become a bastion of Israeli journalism.
In recent years, Sheldon Adelson’s newspaper challenged and overcame Yedioth Ahronoth’s dominance. Meanwhile, right-wing politicians have decried Mozes’s newspaper as a personal mouthpiece for the wealthy media mogul. Neftali Bennett once describe Yedioth Ahronoth as Mozes’s personal “Pravda”, referencing the Soviet Union’s official newspaper and propaganda tool during the Cold War.