Israeli phones exploded with panicked text messages throughout the day Tuesday as political parties used multiple forms of manipulation — from fear to guilt to anger — to get potential voters to the polls.
Strict laws in Israel forbidding electioneering or new polling on television and radio proved absurd in the digital age as voters were electronically bombarded from both right and left, the messaging growing more hysterical as the 10 P.M. closing of the polls drew nearer.
The focus was on the tight race between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
“Every vote that doesn't go to Kahol Lavan goes to Bibi,” read a text message from Gantz’s party. “Every voter who stays home is voting for Bibi! If you haven't voted yet and you want to get rid of Bibi, NOW is the time to join your friends and neighbors and vote Kahol Lavan.”
There was even some “fake news” from Likud, which claimed that the Labor Party had a “deal with the Arab parties! We have to stop this disaster!" However, most Likud texts struck a tone of victimization, Trump-style, pointing an accusing finger at the media.
>> Everything you need to know about Gantz ■ How the election will play out ■ How Gantz may end up erasing the Israeli left ■ How Gantz can win the vote but still lose ■ Fierce battle rages over far-right votes ■ Netanyahu 2019: Radicalized by Obama, unleashed by Trump ■ Mega election quiz
- Israel election 2019: Netanyahu ties with Gantz, but has clear path to form next government
- Israel election 2019: Netanyahu’s tired opponents left waiting for him to make a mistake
- These Israelis were helping Arabs make good on Netanyahu’s Election Day threat
“364 days a year the arena is theirs. 364 days a year we’re called corrupt fascists and beasts. 364 days a year they scream and we remain silent. But today is ours. Get your friends and neighbors, and get out to vote! Only Likud! Only Netanyahu!”
Reports said that Likud was planning to send out as many as 2 million texts messages on Election Day. In the last week of the 2015 campaign, Likud sent 18 million text messages, all anonymous, with warnings such as “turnout is three times higher in the Arab community” and “Hamas has called on Israeli Arabs to go out and vote.” This was topped off by Netanyahu’s Election Day video in which he said Arab voters were going to the polls “in droves,” which many say sealed a last-minute surge in the Likud vote and Netanyahu’s fourth term.
This text from Moshe Feiglin's far-right messianic pro-pot libertarian party Zehut opted for a timely Passover theme: “The liberation from enslavement is imminent! All of the institutions of slavery are stressing out! And that's a good thing!”