JERUSALEM – It was likely just an attempt to show his constituents how hard he has been working lately, but the photo of a sultry and shirtless Israeli parliamentarian uploaded to Facebook in the early hours of Tuesday morning has courted quite a lot of controversy – not to mention a series of amusing, if not cheeky, memes.
The social media snafu was committed by Boaz Toporovsky, one of a new batch of MKs (Knesset members) hailing from Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, who were elected to Israel’s house of representatives in January.
Just before 5 a.m. on Tuesday, the MK posted the offending photo, writing underneath: “4:51am, going to sleep in my office in the Knesset. This is the first time I am sleeping in my office; luckily there is a shower in the office.”
Within a few hours, the doe-eyed, somewhat sexy pose, probably captured by the politician’s smartphone, became big news across Israeli social media, with a slew of memes making fun of the shirtless lawmaker and others criticizing him for behaving like, some said, a drunk 16-year-old.
Among the various takes on the photo, now nicknamed “Boaz ‘I’m too sexy for the Knesset’ Toporovsky,” were photoshopped images of him hanging out with the Beverley Hills 90210 gang, with super-enhanced overly pouty "duck lips," and even one with his bushy eyebrows doing the talking. That last one carries Hebrew text that translates as, "In the Knesset, with my eyebrows."
Of course, while the memes might have just been a bit of fun, the junior MK did take some flak for misbehaving on Facebook, with several Knesset members making formal complaints about the inappropriateness of the photo.
Israeli news Web site Ynet quoted one MK as saying the photo was more befitting “a seduction scene than a Knesset member.”
This is not the first time an Israeli politician has taken heat for posting controversial items on social media. Lapid, who is Toporovsky’s party leader and now the finance minister, has also been criticized for using Facebook to complain about other MKs and even about Israeli society in general.
This latest Facebook blunder, however, might lead the Israeli political establishment to consider a set of social media guidelines for parliamentarians. On Wednesday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein sent out a memo to MKs reminding them to respect the political institution and, of course, the public they represent.