Yair Netanyahu Girlfriend Drama Sparks Echoes of British Royal Romance Scandal

For Israel, Dating a Non-Jew Like Marrying Divorcee

Our Royal Scandal: King Edward once abdicated his throne for love. Hopefully it won’t come to that for Yair Netanyahu.
getty images
Our Royal Scandal: King Edward once abdicated his throne for love. Hopefully it won’t come to that for Yair Netanyahu.

By Asher Schechter

Published January 30, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(Haaretz) — “Israel is freaking out.” “Yair Netanyahu spits on his grandfather’s grave.” “Bibi’s son is dating a Gentile!”

It’s been quite the week for the Netanyahu family, judging by the flurry of hysterical headlines reacting to reports that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyu’s son is dating – gasp! – a “shiksa.” The reported love affair between Yair Netanyahu and Norwegian girlfriend Sandra Leikanger is being treated by Israel as the most scandalizing love story since King Edward and Wallis Simpson shamed the British throne.

It all started rather innocently: The prime minister purportedly revealed that his son was dating a (non-Jewish) Norwegian girl in a meeting with his Norwegian counterpart. The story was picked up by Norwegian newspaper Dagen, which put a face and a name to the story: Sandra Leikanger, a 25-year-old student who met the 23-year-old Netanyahu Jr. while studying with him at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

Then the whole world – the Jewish world, at least – it seems, went berserk. The reason: Leikanger, the potential future spouse of Israel’s Crown Prince (his father is “King Bibi,” after all) is not Jewish. Imagine that! Gevalt!

Netanyahu Sr. is now trying to do damage control, denying the whole thing and claiming Jr. and Sandra are merely classmates. But it’s too late; the damage has already been done.

Indeed, it’s been a long time since the shtetl was so excited. The question we should have been asking – “Is this piece of gossip even newsworthy?” – was quickly pushed aside by people who insisted on making it news at all costs. After all, Netanyahu Jr is the closest Israel has to a crown prince, and “Waity Katie” enthralled Britain for years, so why not us?

It seems everyone has opinions about Jr.’s purported fling. From the right, the last few days have seen a slew of self-appointed Tevyes shouting, “Tradition! Tradition!” Lehava, a right-wing anti-assimilation organization that aims to “save daughters of Israel who were seduced by goys,” was so outraged it sent two letters, one to Netanyahu Sr., one to Jr. himself.

“The implications of your son’s acts, even though he is supposedly a private person, are far-reaching, both for your family and for the State of Israel,” wrote the organization’s chairman, Benzi Gopstein. “This is the son of the prime minister of the Sate of Israel, homeland of the Jewish people. … Your late father, Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, is rolling in his grave because of what your son is doing.”

Gopstein was a bit more subtle in his letter to Jr., offering to meet with him and Leikanger “so that we can converse in person, and understand the significance of this matter together.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.