Israel's Yair Netanyahu retracts 'pedophile cult' remarks after lawsuit

Israel's Yair Netanyahu retracts 'pedophile cult' remarks after lawsuit
The son of the former Israeli prime minister falsely claimed that Wexner Fund alumni were part of a 'cult of pedophiles'.
2 min read
21 July, 2021
Yair Netanyahu [L] has been forced to apologise for the false claims [Getty]

The son of the former Israeli prime minister issued an apology to this week Wexner Fund alumni and promised not to repeat false claims about the organisation, according to reports. 

Yair Netanyahu apologised to 74 Harvard University graduates, who received funding from the Wexner Fund, after they sued him for libel for comments that were "offensive, untrue, and inappropriate". 

"Yair Netanyahu published and distributed fundamentally awful lies using extreme language and engaged in mudslinging against the public service of every graduate of the program," said the plaintiffs in a statement issued on Tuesday. 

Netanyahu had falsely claimed on Twitter that Wexner graduates were a "cult of pedophiles" and called for legislation to prohibit alumni from securing employment in Israel's civil service.

The group works toward the professional development of Jewish professional and volunteer leaders in the US. 

The lawsuit demanded an apology from the 29-year-old, in addition to compensation of 1 million shekels. 

"What was written was not coincidental and was intended to advance the interests of the defendant and portray the graduates to the public as unfit for public service and as people trying to overthrow the government," according to the lawsuit. 

"Severe damage was done to the good name of all the graduates who earned good reputations through years of public service," it continued. 

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Among those involved in the lawsuit were Israeli army officers, lawyers, doctors, journalists, a former state prosecutor, and a former military intelligence chief. 

Netanyahu made his false claims based on a connection between Leslie Wexner, who founded the  fund, and the disgraced financier and pedophile Jefferey Epstein. 

The plaintiffs had originally requested that Yair Netanyahu issue an apology for his statements on social media, stating that his claims were baseless and harmful. Netanyahu refused this request, which was then added as a condition of the lawsuit. 

With Netanyahu’s subsequent apology, the demand for compensation was dropped.