Today, April 1, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is apologizing for a pre-election video he posted on Facebook, which, his critics claimed, used fear-mongering and racism to encourage Israelis to vote for Likud.
In the video, a worried Netanyahu explains, “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out… Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud in order to close the gap between us and Labor.”
Two weeks after securing victory, thanks, in large part, to this ad, the Prime Minister admits he made a mistake. “We had to put something together and, ultimately, we did a bad job. We made a video I’m not proud of. It was tasteless,” Mr. Netanyahu told Israeli Televsion. When pressed on what he meant by tasteless, The Prime minister said, “I don’t even know where to start. It had terrible production value. Look at the lighting, it’s grim. I look terrible. I look fat. Really fat. And pasty. The camera work is shaky. The whole thing is a mess! It’s a nightmare!”
Ironically, the success of Mr. Netanyahu’s media campaigns may have hurt the Prime Minister in this particular instance. “In some way,” Mr. Netanyahu says, “We have only ourselves to blame.” The Prime Minister believes that Likud set the bar too high by creating such high quality propaganda videos. “We made our lives harder by making such great campaign videos. I mean did you see the ISIS video we made?” In the video, actors playing ISIS soldiers drive in a truck, pull up to another car and ask the driver, who is an Israeli, “How do you get to Jerusalem.” The Israeli responds: “Take a Left.”
Mr. Netanyahu says of the video, “It’s funny and scary at the same time, so it manipulates viewers on multiple levels. I mean men with beards are already scary. But this video really drives it home.” Still, the Prime Minister has his doubts: “There is one thing that I still question. Did we go over the top? Did we sacrifice nuance? Not politically, of course. But artistically? The message is already clear. A vote for the left is a vote for ISIS. But we felt like we wanted to be bold, in your face, immediate, visceral. So we have the black wall which is shot with bullets, the loud sounds of bullets, and the text that says, ‘The Left Will Give in to Terrorism’. In the end, though, I think we made the right decision.”
A smile comes to Mr. Netanyahu’s face when he mentions another campaign video called “The Bibi Sitter“: “I mean the conceit is brilliant. I’m the ‘Bibi sitter.’ I come over to watch the kids. I protect Israel’s children. And nothing makes people more pliable, more maleable than the fear of losing a child. But it was also incredibly well-shot. A real coup.”
The “droves of Arabs” video wasn’t even supposed to happen. The Prime Minister’s original plan was to post a clip of Birth of a Nation. Ultimately, the Prime Minister feared it was too subtle. “I wanted the Israelis to know I was talking about Arabs in particular. So I made the video.”
Does he regret it? “No. It made its point. But the Israeli people deserved better. They deserve better white balance, higher definition, more saturation.” Have you ever seen the videos ISIS makes?” Mr. Netanyahu asks, whistling in amazement? “One day we’ll get there, in terms of quality, professionalism, and thinking outside the box. I should live so long. From my lips to G-d’s ears.”