"Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men" – that is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's new message to voters, which appears through an automated popup message that appears on the screen of anybody accessing his official Facebook page.
Followers are urged by the chatbot on Netanyahu's Facebook page to convince undecided voters to vote for the premier's Likud. The chatbot calls on users to tell the voters they will attempt to persuade that "Israel mustn't have a left-wing government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all."
After Haaretz reported on the new message, Likud said the message originated in a staffer's mistake and that Netanyahu did not see the message.
Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh said on Wednesday he reached out to Facebook to put a stop to Netanyahu's "racist and dangerous incitement against the Arab population," adding that the prime minister is "a psychopath with no red lines." Facebook has yet to respond as to how it plans to tackle the issue.
'Dangerous left-wing government'
Netanyahu's full message to his Facebook followers reads:
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***Attention! New scenario ***
Hello [name], my name is ____ and I am a volunteer on behalf of Prime Minister Netanyahu.I am calling you because on Tuesday, you can determine the future of our nation. Prime Minister Netanyahu brings a right-wing policy of a Jewish state, security, and a strong Israel. I am donating my time because we cannot have a dangerous left-wing government with Lapid, Odeh, Gantz and Lieberman in a week's time. A secular left-wing weak government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men, and will enable a nuclear Iran that will eliminate us. We cannot allow this to happen! I therefore ask you to be the envoy of the prime minister, and bring three friends and family members on Tuesday, and make sure they vote Likud. Thank you [name], I'm counting on you!"
Chatbots are controlled by computer and use preset scenarios. Likud used chatbots ahead of the April 2019 election. Similar arguments were used in 2015, when Netanyahu uploaded a video to Facebook to encourage voters, warning that the right-wing government was in danger.
The prime minister said that Arab voters were swarming the voting booths and were being bussed there by left-wing organizations. Text messages conveying similar warnings were sent to people in towns characterized by low voting rates.