Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sarah Netanyahu dismisses lawsuit as 'slander', as Yediot promises personal fight against PM Netanyahu

(BBC, JTA, Bibireport).A lawsuit filed by a former maid worker for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been attacked by his wife, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper says.

Sarah Netanyahu said the lawsuit was "false and replete with slander and fabrications".

The prime minister's wife claimed her former maid, Lillian Peretz, was treated "with warmth and love".However, Ms Peretz, 44, said she was maltreated and humiliated by the Netanyahus.

"Sarah Netanyahu abused me, paid me less than minimum wage, didn't pay my social benefits, forced me to work Saturdays even though I observe Shabbat [the Jewish rest day]," the former housekeeper was quoted as writing in the suit filed at the Tel Aviv labour court.

Mrs Netanyahu rebutted these claims, referring to her former employee's resignation letter in which Ms Peretz allegedly spoke of her "love and appreciation" for the prime minister's wife.

Sarah Netanyahu also referred to one of Yedioth Ahronoth's earlier reports in which the former maid was quoted as saying: "I'm crazy about Sarah. I have no friends, and she is a friend and a mother… she's everything for me. She's an amazing person. I dearly love her."

Sources calim that this report came in a time that there is a on going open fight between the 3 major newspapers, Yediot achronot, Maariv and Yisrael Hayom- a free distribution paper that is under the ownership of American Jewish casino mogul Sheldon Adelson.

The newspaper, Yisrael Hayom (Israel Today), was launched two and half years ago, and has been seen in its support of Netanyahu,that it has been dubbed by its opponents and the left media as the “Bibiton,” a play on Netanyahu's nickname and the Hebrew word for newspaper, iton.

Its opponents argue strongly against it. First, they say it provides a venue for foreign money to shape the Israeli agenda. Additionally, they complain, Yisrael Hayom is nothing more than a propaganda sheet for Netanyahu posing as a genuine newspaper and taking in masses of gullible readers. For Netanyahu to buy that kind of publicity would have cost millions; the free newspaper with nationwide distribution could be seen as campaign funding from a foreign source, which might run afoul of Israel’s very strict campaign financing laws. Worse, say critics, the newspaper’s free distribution -- some even get home delivery for free -- and super-low advertising rates create an uneven playing field that threatens to destroy the competition.

The loudest complaints come from journalists at the daily Maariv, which is already tottering. Maariv columnist Ben Dror Yamini said Adelson is ready to spend as much as it takes to wipe out all the existing Hebrew dailies. He predicts that Maariv will be the first to go, followed by Yediot Achronot. Within a few years, Yamini says, Israel will be left with a monopolistic party political pamphlet and no free press. His Maariv colleague Ben Caspit calls it a hostile takeover of democracy and free speech.

For his part, Adelson dismisses the agitation against him as a ploy for power and market share by his competitors, notably Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yediot.

“Mozes, the publisher of Yediot, is the most powerful man in the State of Israel, and all he wants is to maintain his power, and he manipulates the government,” Adelson told JTA in an interview earlier this month. “Mozes will make a deal with anybody to advance his own personal financial agenda, so he controls everything. He was able to make or break any politician, and he uses that as a lever to get whatever he wants from the political sphere. Why is he always thumping on Bibi? Because he can’t control Bibi.”

Adelson also said the notion that Yisrael Hayom is a vehicle for Netanyahu is nonsense.

“Everybody thinks I started the newspaper Israel HaYom purely to benefit Bibi. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Adelson said. “I started the newspaper to give Israel, Israelis, a fair and balanced view of the news and the views. That’s all. It is not a ‘Bibiton.’”

Netanyahu's aides claim that Yediot's patron Moses turned from a threats to a official open war.In their words, Netanyahu was warned that if hewill not remove Adelson from the Israeli media distribution, they will start to deal with the family of Netanyahu personal. '' Noni Moses is convinced that only a word of Bibi will prevent Adelson, and therefore it is likely for the family of Netanyahu to go through difficult times until the prime minister will give in", says a source to the website " ".