‘Young Netanyahu’: My Name Is No Joke, and No Fun

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Marc Israel, Sellem/Pool)

Naming children for political leaders is a tradition that goes way back, even to the times of Alexander the Great. But when nurses at Ziv Hospital in Tzfas were faced with “Binyamin Netanyahu,” a Druze resident of Kafr Rama in the Galilee, they were still a bit surprised.

The “other Netanyahu” was indeed named for the prime minister, he told Yediot Acharonot, which searched and did not find anyone else other than the young Druze man and the prime minister with that name in Israel’s official records. The younger Netanyahu was named the same year the elder one became prime minister, in 1996, in a fit of patriotism by his father, who had served in Lebanon. “As such, I am as Israeli as they come,” Wahid, the father, told the newspaper.

Often, the political leaders that are chosen as name sources are at the end of their careers, not the beginning, when the controversy that dogged them during their terms in office dissipates. As Israel’s head of state for the large majority of the past 21 years, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has garnered no small number of such controversies – and according to the younger Netanyahu, those controversies have had a significant impact on his life. “I do get a lot of flak for my name, especially with Muslims,” he said. “People make fun of me, they demand to see my identity card. My grandfather was a Likudnik, and so is my father. I am also a Likud voter.” But that hasn’t made it easier, he said.

Young Netanyahu does not have political ambitions, and is happy with his job driving a truck, distributing cleaning products. But the name is an issue. “I mostly work in the ‘triangle’ area east of Netanya, so I am in Arab towns and villages a lot, and I have been called a ‘traitor’ no small number of times. I have considered changing my name, but my father doesn’t want me to. Once I asked him, ‘Why did you give me this name?’ and he said, ‘It’s a good name. We are loyal Likudniks.’”