Rooting for Netanyahu Jr.

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Netanyahu praises son on eve of Bible Quiz final

(Israelnationalnews.com) Before the guests arrive, before the meat is put on the mangal for the annual family Independence Day barbeque, I grab the remote control and tune in to see what’s going on in the World Bible Quiz in Jerusalem.

Most of the time I spend trying to figure out the answers to the questions (which are really hard) or poking fun at the weak Hebrew of some of the contestants from the Diaspora. I’ll inevitably groan when the legendary host of the show, Avshalom Kor, calls up a contestant and proceeds to give a quick history lesson on the derivation of their last name, much to the poor boy or girl’s discomfort.

And every year I look to see if I know any of the contestants, if anyone from my hometown, home state, or high school is competing (which never happens). But most of the time the contestants are unknowns to most of us – except this year.

Last week the Israeli nightly news broadcasts all showed a clip where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met the participants of the Bible Quiz and welcomed them. Well, to be precise they only showed a clip of one specific participant introducing himself as, “Avner Netanyahu, 15,  from Jerusalem.”

The PM smiled (or smirked) and the clip was over. But one thing is for sure, this year’s Bible Quiz will have more intrigue than ever before as viewers wonder how the Prime Minister’s son will fare.

Back in March, when Avner Netanyahu won the National Bible Quiz held in Kiryat Shmona and earned the right to compete in the World Competition in Jerusalem on Yom Haatzmaut, it was a ‘nice’ little story, but now the stakes are higher.

As Avshalom Kor mentioned last year at the contest when the PM and his wife arrived, Avner’s mother, Sarah, and his older brother, Yair, were both former contestants, while Avner’s three maternal uncles are all former winners (including Hagi Ben-Artzi, who was world champion). Big shoes for this young man to fill, indeed.

But I am rooting for young Avner Netanyahu, and I’ll tell you why. As the most prominent Bible Contest contestant ever – based on (last) name recognition at least, he cannot step out of the spotlight. Fair or not, I would not be surprised if some other contestants or viewers are rooting against him simply because he is a ‘Netanyahu’.

Try as we might, we cannot forget about who his father and mother are. This young man probably does not lead an easy life. Say what you want about the privileges of being the Prime Minister’s son, he still cannot lead a ‘normal’ Israeli teenager’s life in Israel. Though I am sure he has gotten used to the constant security personnel and all that entails, it seems that this young man eschews the limelight, and he should be commended for that.

But all that is going to change on Independence Day morning. Now young Avner is going to compete on a national stage, and like it or not, he cannot simply be Avner from Jerusalem, he will be ‘Avner Netanyahu’ and everyone watching will have their eyes on him. Will it be him hoisting the trophy on the front page of tomorrow’s  newspapers flanked by his famous parents, or will the crown go to someone else and he’ll simply be a footnote in the caption?

Personally, I hope he does well. Not because of who he is, but in spite of it. With all the pressures he faces, with all that goes with being a ‘Netanyahu’, I hope he prevails.

Regardless of what you think of the Prime Minister and his wife, one cannot help but root for this young man, Avner Netanyahu. And when he goes back to school after the contest, hopefully he won’t simply be know as ‘the son of’ so and so, but maybe as the World Bible Contest Winner – and that’s something – regardless of where we stand politically-  we can all be proud of.

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