Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming under fire again for anti-Arab comments made by his campaign, this time for a message on his official Facebook page telling voters “Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men.”
Israeli media reported that upon accessing Netanyahu’s official page, viewers are greeted with an automated popup message in Hebrew with a message to voters, imploring them to “make sure” their friends and family vote Likud.
The preset message is written from the perspective of a volunteer with Netanyahu’s campaign, who tells voters “I am donating my time because we cannot have a dangerous left-wing government… in a week’s time,” according to Haaretz’s translation of the message.
“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,” the message continues, saying “we cannot allow this to happen!”
The message also boasts that Netanyahu “brings a right-wing policy of a Jewish state, security, and a strong Israel.”
According to Haaretz, following their report on the message, Likud claimed that the message “originated in a staffer’s mistake” and that Netanyahu had not seen it prior to publication.
Despite claims that the message was not approved by Netanyahu, anti-Palestinian sentiment has been a feature of his current and past campaigns for reelection in an effort to rile up support amongst his rightwing base.
The premiere has repeatedly characterized Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20% of the population, as a “threat” to the right-wing government and the Jewish character of the state.
“Netanyahu’s most recent statement demonstrate a marked increase in his racial incitement against Arab citizens of Israel,” Palestinian rights group Adalah said in a statement on Wednesday.
The group compared the premiere’s statements to those of the ultra-nationalist Michael Ben Ari, who was disqualified by the Supreme Court from participating in the elections over racist remarks against Palestinians and Arabs.
“The Israeli Supreme Court has already ruled that Michael Ben Ari’s identical statements constituted grounds for disqualification of his candidacy for Knesset, so there is no disputing that this is unacceptable propaganda,” Adalah said.
The group added that they issued an incitement complaint on behalf of the Arab Joint List to the Central Elections Committee (CEC) chairman and to the Israeli attorney general.
“Netanyahu is a psychopath with no red lines and he wants to see blood,” Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh tweeted on Wednesday.
נתניהו פסיכופט ללא קווים אדומים והוא רוצה לראות דם. העבריין הבזוי הזה ימשיך להתיר את דמנו כל עוד הוא מאמין שזה יסייע לו להמלט מהכלא.
פנינו לפייסבוק – הם מוכרחים לפעול מיד לשים סוף להסתה הגזענית ומסוכנת של נתניהו נגד האוכלוסייה הערבית.
— Ayman Odeh (@AyOdeh) September 11, 2019
Odeh added that he had reached out to Facebook to “immediately put an end to Netanyahu’s racist and dangerous incitement against the Arab population.”
Just hours after Odeh’s tweets, the Palestinian lawmaker came head to head with Netanyahu on the Knesset floor as the latter argued in favor of the widely condemned bill that seeks to allow representatives of Likud to bring cameras into polling stations during next’s week election.
Odeh confronted Netanyahu with his cell phone camera and began recording the Prime Minister before being kicked off the floor.
The “cameras bill,” which despite Netanyahu’s continued efforts, is expected to fail a parliamentary vote, and has been widely criticized as an attempt to intimidate Arab voters from participating in the election.
The messages on Netanyahu’s Facebook page come just one day after Netanyahu published a video on Twitter specifically targeting “Anglo” voters with campaign video in English.
An important message to the Anglos >> pic.twitter.com/2GJKkMJPzL
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) September 10, 2019
Entitled “An important message to the Anglos,” the video published on Tuesday features Netanyahu saying “to all my English speaking friends, thank you for your warm support.”
“The question in this election is a simple one. Who is going to be the next Prime Minister of Israel?” Netanyahu tells the camera.
“Will it be me, at the head of the Likud? Or will it be Lapid and Gantz at the head of a leftist government that will include Ahmed Tibi and Ayman Odeh as minister in their government?” he continues, referencing two prominent Palestinian MKs.
Hours later, Netanyahu held a press conference where he announced his plans to annex almost one third of the occupied West Bank if reelected, drawing anger amongst Palestinians and accusations from his opponents of “spinning” Israeli voters.
Ironically, though Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party initially attempted to stop Netanyahu’s annexation announcement from broadcasting under the pretext that it constituted “illegal electioneering, Blue and White later responded saying Netanyahu had “copied” them.
“The residents of the Jordan Valley are not Netanyahu’s propaganda props. Blue and White has declared that the Jordan Valley will be part of Israel forever. It was Netanyahu who concocted a plan to surrender the Jordan Valley in [peace talks in] 2014,” the statement read.
“We’re glad Netanyahu came to his senses and adopted Blue and White’s plan for recognition of the Jordan Valley.”