In the usual good cop, bad cop routine, opposing forces are represented by two different people. But when it comes to the Likud campaign ahead of Israel’s second election in five months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t like to share the spotlight. (For the latest election polls – click here)
And so, on Saturday night, some two weeks before Israelis head to the polls and the campaign shifts into full gear, Netanyahu played both roles.
First, in a live-streamed statement filmed in an ominous-looking setting, he unleashed a scathing attack on Israel’s highest-rated television program, Channel 12 News, and its parent company, Keshet. In the assault, he expanded his usual criticism of the station’s legal affairs reporter, Guy Peleg, to the firm’s top executives and shareholders behind the scenes.
Netanyahu spent the weekend firing accusations at Channel 12. He criticized Peleg’s reporting of leaks from the investigation into the corruption cases against him, and called for a boycott of the station in response to HBO’s miniseries “Our Boys,” which was produced by Keshet and which Netanyahu has slammed as “anti-Semitic.”
Just a few hours later, a Likud video shot outdoors featured a very different Netanyahu.
In the lighthearted clip, two lost hikers encounter the prime minister, who’s lugging a backpack at a crossroads on the Israel Trail. When the hikers argue over which way to go, a smiling Netanyahu suggests they follow him on the “secure and stable path,” which, “while challenging, is the only way to get to the top.”
While they talk, confused tourists scramble down the other path. A young woman breaks away to warn the two hikers not to join the herd on the other path because one of its leaders, Benny, is “inexperienced” and doesn’t want the job, while the other, Yair, “keeps changing directions.”
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This of course is a swipe at Netanyahu’s chief rivals in this year’s elections, the leaders of the Kahol Lavan party, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. When asked where she found these incompetent guides, the young woman shrugs: “Lieberman recommended them” – Avigdor Lieberman, the head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party who stymied Netanyahu’s efforts to form a government last spring.
Convinced, the hikers decide to follow Netanyahu instead of the balagantz – Netanyahu’s beloved phrase that mixes the Hebrew word for “mess” and his rival’s name.
The video ends with the group around a campfire with a smiling and chuckling good cop Netanyahu. He’s strumming a ukulele and singing an off-key version of the Likud campaign song.