(JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s teenage son has made remarks hostile to Arabs and Islam on Facebook, an Israeli newspaper reported.
According to the report in Haaretz, Netanyahu’s son, Yair, called for a boycott of Arab businesses following s 2008 outbreak of violence riots between Arabs and Jews on Yom Kippur in the northern Israeli city of Akko.
And after five members of a family in a West Bank settlement were stabbed to death in their home by Palestinians, he wrote that “terror has a religion and it is Islam.”
Yair Netanyahu, who is now 19, also expressed hope that there would “never be” a Palestinian state.
Some of the comments were posted on the Facebook page of Ashton Kutcher, the Hollywood actor. John Galliano, a designer, had just been fired by Dior after an anti-Semitic rant. Kutcher had asked his followers: "Do you think Galliano would have been fired if he had demeaned Muslims?"
Netanyahu, writing under a profile named "Jessie Netan," said that he was "disappointed" at such a pronouncement a day or so after terrorists killed five members of a family in an Israeli settlement.
Other commenters engaged Netanyahu. He responded "Terror has a religion and it is Islam. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim."
"Jessie Netan’s" comments have been removed from Kutcher’s page, although responses to him from other commenters remain.
An attorney for the Netanyahu family accused Haaretz of the “cynical use of the words of a teenager, said in anger, when he could not imagine that someone would someday make use of them."
The remarks were “taken out of context in an attempt to defame the prime minister and his family,” the attorney, David Shimron, said in a statement provided to the Associated Press. "Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife believe in moderation and tolerance, and they respect all people without regard for their religion, origin or nationality and that is how they raise their children," the statement said.
The comments in question were removed after it made inquiries to the prime minister about them, according to Haaretz.
Haaretz also reported that Yair Netanyahu administered a Facebook group with 23 members that called for a boycott of Arab businesses.
Yair Netanyahu currently serves in the Israeli army’s media liaison unit.
The military noted that some of the comments in question were made before his military service. But a military spokesman said that commanders had spoken with him "to clarify to the soldier the military commands, outlining his mistakes, as would be done with any soldier in a similar situation," according to the A.P.