Netanyahu Resorts to Race-baiting to Win Elections

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Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu campaigns in the southern city of Ashkelon March 17, 2015.Credit: Reuters

In the last 48 hours we’ve seen Benjamin Netanyahu’s true face.

We learned that he has no intention of ever agreeing to a Palestinian state.

We learned what he thinks of the Arab minority in Israel, which he said should not feel threatened by his attempts to pass a nation-state bill, because this is still a democracy where citizens have equal rights.

But we learned, when we see him sending out tweets, texts and a video saying “Hurry friends, the Arabs are going out in droves to vote, bused in by the left” – we see in that moment what he really thinks of the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Arab.

They are the enemy. They are a danger. They and their votes are to be feared. Their walking peacefully to their places of voting is an existential threat, just like every Palestinian organization of every political stripe. Just like Iran and ISIS and BDS. Just like the Obama administration. Just like the left, embodied by the Zionist Unions’ Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, who are about to rip out the rug from underneath him.

Bussed in, because they’re not normal Israelis who can walk to local schools and vote (they can). They need to be sent in from the periphery by busses. They are coming for us – for you. And despite all my attempts to beat back these barbarians at the gate, they’re coming. So vote for me. Quick.

There’s also the issue of the Likud campaign making a fake ad in which they pieced together quotes from Moshe Kahlon and made it sound like he would endorse Bibi. Salim Jubran, the justice for the Central Elections Commission, has forced the Likud campaign to stop circulating the ad and has fined them 20,000 shekels (about $5,000). Were control of the Likud campaign not so closely held by Netanyahu, you might be able to excuse this as the poor judgment of some young campaign manager who thinks he can remix quotes like Noy Alooshe and get away with it.

But everything we’ve read in recent days indicates that the campaign has been wholly directed by and focused on Netanyahu, which is why we’ve seen nary another face in its ads or voice in its promos. And even if Netanyahu were not directly responsible, one would have to wonder about the spirit of the campaign set by the man at the top. A fair fight does not sound like it’s in the lexicon.

Netanyahu brought Israel so many great things from America. Excellent oratorical skills and accentless English. Comfort with Congressional leaders and smooth relations with fundamentalist Christians. One, once-upon-a-time, whip-smart campaign. This time, he would have done well to have remembered a few tenets of American political culture. Race baiting is likely to come back and bite you. Fight fair. And learn to lose gracefully.