Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, has been found guilty of abuse towards staff in a recent labor court ruling. The court found that Sara created an abusive working environment for her staff at the Israeli prime minister’s official residence. Charges leveled against Sara by Meni Naftali, the former chief caretaker of the Netanyahu residence, located in Jerusalem, were initially dismissed by the office of Prime Minister Netanyahu as “evil, skewed gossip” when the civil lawsuit was filed in 2014.
The labor court, however, in its 40-page decision, disagreed with that. The testimony given by both Meni Naftali, as well as other, former household employees who worked at the Netanyahu home, in regards to the alleged abusive behavior perpetrated by Sara Netanyahu, were found to be credible, reliable statements.
Sara Netanyahu has made headlines repeatedly over her past behavior and a penchant for “imperiousness.” Her constant appearance in the papers, with a focus on her abusive behavior, has caused the Netanyahu family spokesperson to repeatedly cry foul, claiming that her reputation for imperiousness is “undeserved.”
However, her reputation for abrasiveness and abusiveness towards others has not seemed to cause any significant political damage to her husband, who is now in his fourth term as the leader of Israel, and it seems unlikely that even an official guilty verdict convicting her of abusiveness towards her household staff will have any political fallout for Benjamin Netanyahu, either.
This is not even the first time that Sara Netanyahu has been taken to court over her abusive behavior. In 2010, a housekeeper accused her of being abusive. That particular case was settled out of court.
Naftali, the man who brought the current case against Sara Netanyahu, resigned his place in 2012 after working at the prime minister’s residence for 20 months. He said that he had been subjected to repeated and numerous verbal abuses by Mrs. Netanyahu. At one point, he testified, Sara Netanyahu called him to harangue him over a particular purchase.
His grave mistake, apparently, was that he had bought milk packaged in a plastic bag rather than in the carton, which Sara Netanyahu apparently preferred.
It was not just the former caretaker who testified to Sara Netanyahu’s unreasonable behavior toward her staff. There was testimony from several other former employees. Their testimony, the court said, pointed to “abusive employment conditions at the prime minister’s residence as a result of Mrs. Netanyahu’s behavior and her attitude,” the court said.
“These included exaggerated demands, insults, humiliation and angry outbursts,” said the 40-page verdict.
Sara Netanyahu vigorously defended herself before the court, calling the allegations of abuse brought against her “slander and lies.” She maintained that she had excellent relationships and interactions with her employees, and that she treated her employees with “civility and politeness.”
The court again disagreed, saying that the evidence brought against her proclaimed otherwise, and that “this is not the conclusion reached from the evidence presented to us.” Mrs. Netanyahu, the court says, ran the official residence of the Prime Minister in a “high-handed manner” and witnesses making those claims of abuse had been persuasive and credible, it said.
“The prime minister’s residence, despite all its inherent complexities, should serve as an example of how workers’ rights should be protected,” the court said. The court added that “powerless household staff were forced to work very long hours” and that turnover at the Netanyahu residence had been high.
After the ruling, the court ordered the state to pay Naftali 80,000 shekels ($21,000) for emotional distress and another 75,000 shekels ($19,300) over unfulfilled promises of tenure and another 15,000 shekels ($3,900) to cover court costs. His civil suit was brought against his government employer, the prime minister’s office, rather than Sara Netanyahu herself.
That infamous bag of milk that so upset Sara Netanyahu basically cost the state of Israel $44,200.
A spokesman at the prime minister’s office declined immediate comment on the labor court’s verdict.
[Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images]