Netanyahu surrogates borrow Trump’s ‘Stop the Steal’

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has a good chance of winning another national election later this month, but in case he doesn’t, some of his surrogates are already circulating an explanation: Bibi are planning to steal the vote.

The very Trumpian claim – backed up by no discernible evidence – is just one way Netanyahu’s campaign increasingly resembles that led by the former US president last year. Bibi has made baseless allegations against his rivals, deflected attention from coronavirus-related deaths and emphasized his own role in the successful vaccination campaign. He has even has an elder Breitbart journalist as his campaign advisor.

TEL AVIV, Israel — Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu has a good chance of winning another national election later this month, but in case he doesn’t, some of his surrogates are already circulating an explanation: Bibi are planning to steal the vote.

The very Trumpian claim – backed up by no discernible evidence – is just one way Netanyahu’s campaign increasingly resembles that led by the former US president last year. Bibi has made baseless allegations against his rivals, deflected attention from coronavirus-related deaths and emphasized his own role in the successful vaccination campaign. He has even has an elder Breitbart journalist as his campaign advisor.

In three previous votes in the past two years, Netanyahu has focused his campaign in part on his strong relationship with then-President Donald Trump, who enjoys great popularity in Israel. Giant billboards showed the two men entwined.

But with a Democrat now in the White House, the surrogates are focusing less on Trump and more on his playbook.

“Election fraud has happened,” warned Likud activist Iki Cohen, on Twitter at the start of the campaign in December.

Cohen and others have pointed to new electoral measures to accommodate pandemic voting, including an expansion of polling stations and mail-in ballots, as the kind of bureaucratic maneuver that opponents of the Deep State of Netanyahu could use to manipulate the tally.

According to recent polls, Netanyahu’s Likud party is expected to win more seats than any other parliamentary faction. Its political bloc of right-wing and religious parties is close to the 61-seat majority needed to control the Israeli parliament.

February Channel 13 television survey found The Israelis see him as the most suitable candidate for the job with an almost 2-1 advantage over his next closest rival, opposition leader Yair Lapid.

The strategy of sowing uncertainty over the legitimacy of the election would become useful as Plan B, in the event that Netanyahu fails to win a clear majority in parliament and fails to form a coalition, a bargaining process. that could last for weeks or months.

“It would help shape public consciousness that once again the institutional powers are working against Netanyahu to prevent him from staying in power,” said Yossi Dorfman, social media consultant and member of an activist movement that wants Netanyahu be removed from office on charges of corruption against him. “He wants to use this energy to put pressure on government institutions to rule in his favor” on the election results.

Changes instituted by Israel’s Central Election Commission, the body responsible for conducting the elections and chaired by a Supreme Court judge, will make voting more accessible to tens of thousands of Israelis suffering from or in COVID-19. quarantine. The committee adds thousands of polling stations – an increase of more than a third – to enable social distancing; offer races to voters limited by the pandemic; almost double the number of postal ballots; and the opening of driving polling stations.

As in the recent US election, these changes are likely to slow down the vote count and inject more uncertainty into the process. (in the last elections, 7.2% of Israelis voted absent compared to 46% in the United States.) This uncertainty could open the door to allegations of fraud.

Even before the announcement of the new voting measures was made, the prime minister’s surrogates on social media, including his son Yair Netanyahu, attacked the integrity of the Central Election Commission and accused him of throwing the countdowns against Netanyahu in previous elections.

Yair Netanyahu frequently plays the role of social media attack dog on behalf of his father.

“I suddenly remembered how the elections [in Israel] were stolen via double envelopes, ” Yair Netanyahu tweeted in November 2020, using the Israeli term for postal ballots.

Attacks on social media have focused on allegations that the Supreme Court judge who chairs the committee, Uzi Fogelman, is a tool of the Israeli left.

“What is going on here is no less serious than what Trump and his surrogates did to the masses on the eve of the rise to Capitol Hill,” wrote Ben Caspit, an Israeli political columnist, in the Maariv newspaper. “It starts with a smart-aleck sitting high up in Balfour Street [the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence] and then trickle down to a well-oiled system that can effectively spread the message over a large infrastructure. “

Like Trump, Netanyahu grapples with disgruntled members of his own party who pushed Likud to run an opposition campaign. The group could potentially partner with central and leftist Israeli parties after the election to form an alternative coalition and end Netanyahu’s 12-year rule. (He was also Prime Minister for three years in the 1990s.)

And he has embarked on a surprise voter education campaign among Israel’s Arab minority, hoping they will forget about his use of anti-Arab whistles in the past to scare greater turnout among his loyalist base of Israel. right. Netanyahu has touted his 2015 plan to invest around $ 4.6 billion to improve services in Arab-Israeli cities, although much of that money has yet to be spent due to bureaucracy.

Unlike Trump, Netanyahu has largely refrained from lending his own voice to the delegitimization campaign launched by his supporters on social media.

The campaign to target the legitimacy of the election works as a diffuse echo chamber rather than a disciplined top-down messaging operation, a digital media expert said.

“I don’t think anyone at Balfour is coordinating all of these efforts. You don’t need to have people sitting around the same table, ” said Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, member of the Israel Democracy Institute. “It’s a more complicated picture. It’s more like a collection of independent players, everyone who knows what role they’re playing. This is what Trump has done with such genius. And that’s what I think Likud is trying to do.

Providers on social media platforms range from loyalist Netanyahu lawmakers and Likud activists to right-wing organizations and grassroots activists.

Earlier this year, far-right Israeli non-governmental organization Im Tirtzu launched a campaign titled “Stop fraudEchoing allegations of electoral fraud in the United States. The organization alleges corruption in the counting of votes in Arab-Israeli districts.

Im Tirtzu, who has raised millions of dollars from American donors in campaigns against left-wing Israeli groups, also accused the Central Election Commission of miscounting the votes in the previous three elections without providing any evidence. Describing its campaign as an “electoral integrity initiative,” the organization called on its supporters to monitor polling stations for voter corruption or other mischief during the March 23 vote.

“As long as there is no control by the Central Election Commission, right-wing votes won’t matter !!!” complained Ream Shai, a Likud supporter, in a January 21 post on Facebook. “What happened in the United States will happen here too !!!!”

Some analysts wonder if the disinformation campaign could end in violence similar to the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol.

But Jonathan Rynhold, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University, pointed out that since Netanyahu also faces right-wing opponents, it will be difficult to argue that a left-wing cabal has stolen power.

“You are going to have two big center-right parties, and however that is cut, they will be at odds with Netanyahu,” he said.

Altshuler expressed concern that social media platforms and Israeli authorities are not doing enough to tackle the disinformation campaign.

“Just like what happened in America, the authorities here don’t see the big picture,” she said. “I don’t see how the Israeli authorities are trying to deal with this. “


Source link

About Kelly Choos

Kelly Choos

Check Also

Christopher Kane lends his Instagram platform to BAME fashion students

“My whole team knew we had to step in and take concrete action that went …