Yair Netanyahu, the 27-year-old son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has become well-known within Israel for his boisterous social media presence, on which he defends his father from criticism and frequently ignites controversy.
Now, in a recent interview with a right-wing U.S. broadcaster, the younger Netanyahu has used his platform to defend President Trump, describing the U.S. leader as a “real rock star” in Israel and comparing him to the ancient Persian ruler King Cyrus.
Yair Netanyahu made his remarks during an appearance on BlazeTV, a conservative television channel founded by commentator Glenn Beck, during a recent visit to the United States. The full interview is due to be aired Tuesday.
Asked about allegations that Trump held anti-Semitic sentiments, Netanyahu responded by saying that the president had been extremely positive for Israel and that he was popular in that country.
“I think President Trump is the best friend of Israel, and the Jewish people, [that we’ve] ever had in the White House. He will be remembered in Jewish history, for moving the embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem, and recognizing the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu said.
“The Jewish people still remember King Cyrus the Great from Persia that recognized Jerusalem 2,500 years ago,” he added, “so we have a long-term memory.”
Netanyahu was referring to Trump’s 2017 decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and his 2019 decision to recognize the Golan Heights, a disputed area on Israel’s border with Syria, as Israeli territory.
Cyrus lived around 600 to 530 B.C. and was the first emperor of Persia. He is known in Jewish tradition as a non-Jewish ruler who allowed Jews to return to Israel after exile and helped them rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.
Benjamin Netanyahu compared Trump to King Cyrus last year before meeting the U.S. president at the Oval Office. The comparison has been popular among both Orthodox Jews and evangelical Christians, supporters of Trump.
Netanyahu also spoke in support of Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, suggesting that a barrier that Israel built along its border with Egypt in 2011 to keep out migrants and refugees from Africa was comparable.
“Israel is only 8 million people. Tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants would eventually have brought the destruction of Israel,” he said. “Since the wall was completed, the illegal immigrants, the illegal immigration, has completely stopped.”
Israel’s border along Egypt’s Sinai desert is about 143 miles long, compared with the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico. The barrier, made up of a razor-wire-lined fence rigged with censors, was reported to have cost Israel around $380 million — a far smaller sum than the billions of dollars Trump has requested for his wall.
Though relatively little known in the United States, Yair Netanyahu is a well-known member of the first family in Israel. Israeli media reports state that he lives at home with his parents. He maintains a number of social media accounts, each with tens of thousands of followers.
In 2017, he posted to Facebook an anti-Semitic meme that depicted his father’s foes, including U.S. Jewish billionaire philanthropist and investor George Soros and outspoken former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak.
The post drew support from neo-Nazi groups in the United States, with Andrew Anglin of the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer calling him a “total bro.” But it drew criticism in Israel, with Barak suggesting that Yair Netanyahu needed to see a psychiatrist. Yair Netanyahu subsequently deleted the image.
He was later temporarily suspended from Facebook for posts that criticized Muslims.
Last year, Israel’s Channel 2 aired recordings made three years earlier that appeared to feature a drunk Yair Netanyahu demanding money from a friend to pay for a stripper and asking where he could find a late-night prostitute. “My dad arranged $20 billion for your dad, and you’re whining with me about 400 shekels,” he said to the son of Israeli tycoon Kobi Maimon.
During his visit to the United States, Netanyahu also stopped by Fox News, according to his Instagram account, which showed him meeting with Tucker Carlson. He also met with Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to Trump’s reelection campaign.
Yair Netanyahu previously visited Washington with his father in March. He addressed young leaders at an event at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference and dined with Sebastian Gorka, a former White House aide and right-wing media personality.