[Update, Jan. 29: Channel 10 is reporting that Netanyahu's bureau chief told right-wing critics in the Knesset that the prime minister's son and Leikanger are just friends. Not sure how two red-blooded young hotties could vacation together in Northern Norway and not succumb to cabin passions, but that seems to be the prime minister's new version of events. It's also suspicious that both Leikanger and the Prime Minister's Office declined to comment to the Assocated Press. "Will and Kate — or Romeo and Juliet?" asks Israeli newspaper Haaretz. I've contacted Netanyahu's people to help clear things up.]
Either Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just enlisted his son to top off the unfolding love story between Israel and Norway with some tabloid fireworks, or life is seriously imitating foreign policy right now.
Call it conspiracy, call it coincidence: Norwegian news outlet Dagen is reporting that 23-year-old Yair Netanyahu, the prime minister's eldest son and baby-faced prince of Tel Aviv nightlife, is going steady with 25-year-old Sandra Leikanger, a Norwegian communications major he met while the two were studying at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel.
According to the report, in a meeting last week between Netanyahu Sr. and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, "a smiling Israeli prime minister spoke of 'new friends' ... and told the press that his son has just vacationed in Northern Norway with his Norwegian girlfriend." Two vacation photos lifted from Leikanger's then-public Facebook profile confirmed as much.
The scandal? The First Girlfriend is (allegedly) a white-hot Norwegian shiksa.
What's more, the L.A. Jewish Journal can exclusively report that the two have been hanging out since at least the first week of July 2013. Last summer, while following around a U.S. television crew for a yet-to-be-released special on Israel's prime minister, I watched Netanyahu Jr. work his magic at a posh nightclub in Tel Aviv's restored railway complex, surrounded by skinny chicks in bodycon dresses. (Photos below.) He seemed to be flirting with the girl in light green. What I didn't know at the time, though, was that the girl to his left — in the same white, lacy dress she wears in her Instagram avatar — could be his future, or perhaps even current, romantic interest.
That same night, the First Son's bodyguard, hanging back in the crowd, told me wearily that his young boss had been staying out until dawn multiple nights per week. Netanyahu's firstborn also goes to IDC, which everyone knows is host to the nation's highest concentration of hot chicks and rich kids who like to party.
So congrats, Miss Norway, on taming Israel's devilish boy king.
Since the media storm started brewing a day or two ago, Leikanger appears to have erased/privatized her Internet trail pretty thoroughly, perhaps with some help from her boyfriend's own damage-control entourage. (Netanyahu's son quietly disappeared from Facebook after he let fly some less-than-diplomatic, very 19-year-old opinions about Arabs and Muslims circa 2011.) However, I did find this YouTube video she posted a couple years back of her chirping and cooing at two little brown puppies as they nip at her summertime toes. And at the risk of sounding super creepy, I can definitely see the appeal.
The Israeli media is reporting that Leikanger's older sister, Ida, also lives in Israel and has converted to Judaism. The two girls reportedly grew up in an Evangelical family in the quaint Norwegian port town of Grimstad.
Religious and right-wing members of the Knesset, Israel's version of parliament, are of course making a monstrous stink about the mere prospect of muggle babies diluting the Royal Family. Apparently, matters of lesser importance like peace in the Middle East must take a backseat to one pretty Aryan threat to the bloodline.
Knesset member Nissim Ze'ev, of the conservative Shas party, told the Jerusalem Post:
"It's a big problem. As the prime minister of Israel and the Jewish people, [Netanyahu] must display national responsibility via the values he presents inside his own household. I bet it pains him. Any Jew who wants to maintain his roots wants to see his son marry a Jewish girl. There is no shortage of beautiful, successful girls without sowing in the fields of others."
OK, ew. Sowing in the fields of others? Aren't we jumping the gun a little here? Can't a boy and his girl snap some couple's pics in rural Norway without the world speculating on their future failures in upholding the modern legacy of the Jewish people?
Netanyahu, however, whose second marriage was to a shiksa from England, seems unfazed. And on the international political scene, the news serves him well: Just think what this could mean for Jewish-Viking collaboration! As Naim Araidi, Israeli Ambassador to Oslo, told Ynet last week of Norway's recent shift rightward: "The public and the authorities are beginning to understand that relations with Israeli do not necessarily have to be defined by the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the two nations can develop normal ties in every field regardless."
Every field. EVERY FIELD, guys. Teehee.
In closing, let me just say, as a fellow shiksa of Norwegian descent a few years wiser than my Jewish boyfriend of Israeli descent: Get it, girl. And while you're at it, kindly uphold the modern legacy of the Jewish people.
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