Prime minister’s wife accused in court of abusing staff

Former employees of the prime minister’s residence are suing the Netanyahus for wife Sara’s allegedly abusive and inhumane treatment. On Sunday a former cook recounted some shocking incidents when she testified under subpoena.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife, Sarah (Photo by
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife, Sarah (Photo by

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of the prime minister, is an alcoholic who drinks champagne from morning to night, terrorizes her employees with verbal and physical abuse and has her husband, the prime minister, so terrified of her rages that he does not dare utter a word that might appear to contradict her. This is according to testimony heard on Sunday in a Jerusalem court  from former employees at the prime minister’s residence. Guy Eliahu, a former maintenance man at the official residence, is suing the Netanyahus for what he says is Sara’s abusive, inappropriate and inhumane treatment.

According to a report published by Ynet, the Israeli digital media site, on Sunday a former cook, Etti Haim, who took the witness stand reluctantly after she was subpoenaed, described several shocking incidents.

In one case, testified Haim, Sara Netanyahu went ballistic upon discovering that the patio awning had been rolled up after the al fresco dinner table had been fully set for dinner, including an array of prepared salads. Just before Sara Netanyahu appeared for the meal, the prime minister had asked Guy Eliahu, the maintenance man, to roll up the awning over the table. Upon seeing this Mrs. Netanyahu berated Eliahu, insisting the dinner table was now contaminated by dust. Haim said the prime minister did not intervene but sat silently on a bench near the table, avoiding eye contact with Eliahu. Mrs. Netanyahu ordered that the table be entirely cleared of dishes and food and re-set. When her son Avner said that his food was fine and should not be cleared away, Sara Netanyahu angrily accused him of taking the side of the servants. The prime minister’s wife then trashed the dinner table. Haim testified:

“Guy and I stood there terrified. She jerked the cloth off the table so that all the dishes, salads and pickles landed on the floor. Then she said, ‘You have five minutes to re-set this table.’ And that’s exactly what we did.”

Haim recounted another incident when Sara Netanyahu refused to have an ambulance called to the official residence after the cook collapsed in the kitchen. Haim fainted while rushing to prepare a late-night meal the prime minister’s wife had just requested. According to Haim’s testimony, a paramedic said the problem was with Haim’s heart and that she must be evacuated to the hospital immediately. But rather than call the emergency medical services Netanyahu forced the cook to phone home and ask one of her sons to come take her to the hospital in his private car. “That was my last day at work,” said Haim. “She never called and never asked after me.”

At another point in her testimony, Haim said that she called the deputy director of the Prime Minister’s Office to complain after Netanyahu slapped her, claiming the cook had not washed her hands before removing wine glasses from the cupboard. Haim confirmed testimony given earlier by Guy Eliahu and Meni Naftali, another former employee, who said that Netanyahu was a heavy drinker who demanded champagne be brought to her at all hours from morning until very late at night.

Naftali has accused Netanyahu of inappropriate and abusive behavior like calling him at 3 a.m. to berate him for purchasing milk packaged in plastic bags rather than in carton. All three witnesses — Eliahu, Naftali and Haim — spoke of being forced to work up to 16 hours per day on a regular basis, of Sara Netanyahu addressing them in an abusive manner that included ethnic slurs, and of having to respond to inappropriate demands. They also describe an atmosphere of paralyzing fear that permeates the prime minister’s residence and bureau. Everyone, including the prime minister, is deeply afraid of Sara Netanyahu.

Sara Netanyahu’s insane behavior has been widely publicized in the Hebrew media for years, and is frequently the subject of jokes on political satire programs. But somehow neither his wife’s inappropriate behavior nor the prime minister’s inability to prevent her from abusing the staff affects the power of Netanyahu’s populist appeal. Witnesses have testified on many occasions that Netanyahu is terrified of his Sara and will do anything to placate her, even if it means throwing those most loyal to him under the bus.

The Netanyahus of course deny all the accusations and claim they run a harmonious household. The prime minister has claimed on several occasions that his wife is being targeted by his political opponents and that the “leftist” media has a vendetta against her. But according to many reports, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (also Jewish Home) resigned from Netanyahu’s staff around 2008 because they could not deal with Sara Netanyahu’s abuse. It has been widely reported for years that the prime minister’s wife interferes directly in affairs run out of the Prime Minister’s Office — and, as mentioned above, the man who has been staring down the ayatollahs for the past decade is a terrified mouse where his wife is concerned. Or he just doesn’t care what she does.