Editorial |

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mudslinger-in-chief

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Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Makor Rishon Economic, Society and Innovation conference, Jerusalem, December 8, 2019.
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Makor Rishon Economic, Society and Innovation conference, Jerusalem, December 8, 2019.Credit: Emil Salman

The nadir to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brought the political discourse in the current election campaign is reason enough to demand that he retire from public life in Israel. It’s hard to find words to describe the toxic stink that wafts from the political sewage Netanyahu, his associates and his family are channeling into the public fields.

There is not enough space to cover the entirety of mudslinging in Netanyahu’s sewer politics. In the battle for the premiership Netanyahu has stopped at nothing in demeaning his political rivals, delegitimizing them to the point of dehumanizing anyone perceived as standing in his way to another term. That includes methodical, consistent incitement against Israel’s Arab citizens, Arab lawmakers and the legitimacy of the Arab vote.

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Netanyahu is waging a crude political battle, completely ignoring the distinction between truth and lies, between what is allowed and what is off limits, including strikes against innocent bystanders. He and his emissaries continue to spread the fake story that when Iranians hacked into Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz’s cellphone, they made off with a sex tape that they intend to use for blackmail. As if that weren’t low enough, last week Netanyahu’s son Yair shared on his Twitter account a picture of one Dana Cassidy, an ordinary citizen, alongside the tweet “Does anyone know who this is?” This was after Cassidy posted a selfie with Gantz on her Facebook page. Yair Netanyahu’s tweet implied that there were a romantic connection between the two, sparking a wave of rumors on social media and vulgar responses to Cassidy’s post.

The senior Netanyahu’s thundering silence in the face of his son’s ugly actions, in his own service, is another expression of his moral degradation. If an innocent young woman whose only crime is her support for Gantz becomes a legitimate target, having a rabbi record a personal conversation with Gantz’s advisor is also morally acceptable. That is how a recording surfaced in which Gantz’s campaign consultant Israel Bachar is heard speaking against him. Last week, TheMarker reported that attorney Yossi Cohen, who is close to the Netanyahu family, had hired the intelligence firm CGI Group to spy on Gantz and dig up dirt to embarrass him.

To Netanyahu’s ongoing incitement against the police and the State Prosecutor’s Office we can add the report by Haaretz’s Gidi Weitz that Netanyahu has worked through emissaries over recent months to obtain the full transcripts of the Harpaz affair about attempts to improperly sway the process of selecting the army’s chief of staff in 2011 and release them to undermine the standing of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblitt, who was then military advocate general.

How many more shovelfuls of muck must Israelis endure? At this point, our only hope is that there are enough people who can see the danger in the radioactive rays emanating from the messiah of hatred, incitement and lies, and will put an end to Netanyahu’s poisonous rule on Monday.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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