A settler wine maker’s invitation to U.S. president-elect Donald Trump to visit her winery has uncorked a controversy in Israel’s small but colorful wine scene.
Vered Ben Saadon, the founder of Tura winery in the Rehelim settlement, said in a Facebook post that she was “waiting for Trump’s visit.” Many settlers have placed hope in the president-elect to support their cause from the White House.
But a major Israeli wine figure did not agree. Gal Zohar, the sommelier at the upscale Dan Hotels chain, responded to Ben Saadon with a vicious post on Facebook in which he accused Ben Saadon of sharing Trump’s “undisguised racism” as a settler.
He predicted that Trump, who has been accused of sexual assault by several women, a charge the president-elect denies, would arrive to Tura Winery and “pinch [Ben Saadon’s] bottom, hugging and kissing because he can.”
“A little less pleasant is the moment when he grabs your pussy,” he wrote, a reference to the 2005 Access Hollywood tape released during the election in which Trump was caught on a hot mic saying he would grab women by the genitals, against their will.
“But what won’t be done for the homeland,” continued Zohar acerbically.
Ben Saadon shot back at Zohar that his “repulsive” comment “harms all women.” She also filed a police report against Zohar.
According to Israel’s Maariv newspaper, the ensuing online outrage on Ben Saadon’s behalf forced Zohar to apologize. He called his insults to Ben Saadon “frankly embarrassing.”
Naomi Zeveloff is the Middle East correspondent of the Forward, primarily covering Israel and the Palestinian Territories.