After a virulent message broadcast on Facebook, the Israeli Prime Minister denied his involvement, blaming an employee of his party. The American firm has suspended access to its automated mail a few days before the legislative elections.
While the Israeli parliamentary elections, scheduled for September 17, are fast approaching, a message broadcast by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, prompting his supporters to move on polling day was a scandal: a text of ten lines calling for its support to “determine the future of the country”.
“We can not have a dangerous left-wing government with Lapid, Odeh, Gantz and Lieberman […] A weak, secular left government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men”, it is specified. This call to vote was broadcast by chatbot and appeared on the screen of every person trying to access the official Facebook page of the Israeli leader. The text also implied that in the event of a victory for the left, its leaders “will allow a nuclear Iran that will annihilate” the population of the Jewish state. It has since been deleted.
Contacted by the Israeli daily Haaretz , the first media to have spotted the message, the Likud party of the Prime Minister, has made a human error to justify himself, saying that Benjamin Netanyahu had not had the opportunity to read the offending text . “It was not me, it was one of the staff of the campaign headquarters,” even assured the head of government on Israeli public radio. “Think logically: do you think I would really write such a thing? […] I have friends in the Arab countries and I respect the human beings, whether Jews, Arabs, Muslims or Christians “, he still defended himself.
“Psychopath without limits”, “despicable offender”
Reacting on 11 September on Twitter, Israeli Arab politician Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Unified List coalition, which won 10 Knesset seats in the April 2019 poll , described Bibi as a “psychopath without limits “who wants to” see blood “. He castigated a “despicable delinquent” ready for anything “not to go to jail”. The prime minister is indeed embroiled in several corruption cases that could well lead him behind bars if he fails to stay at the helm of the country. Ayman Odeh also called on Facebook to “act immediately to stop Netanyahu’s racist and dangerous incitement against the Arab population.”
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
The California firm said in a statement that after “finding a violation of [its] policy on hate speech,” she decided to suspend Benjamin Netanyahu’s automated messaging machine “for 24 hours.” “. “In case of further violation, we will continue to take appropriate measures,” she warned.
The measure, which came into effect on the morning of 12 September, is not expected to affect the Likud’s online campaign, according to a spokesman for the right-wing party quoted by AFP. Already in April last year, the political party resorted to chatbots in the countryside.
Earlier in the week, Benjamin Netanyahu was widely criticized for wanting to vote a last-minute amendment, allowing the use of surveillance cameras in polling stations, to guard against possible “fraud”. Israeli Arabs see this as an attempt to discourage voters, some fearing to be identified and stuck by the power after going to the polls.
The Israeli prime minister is thus in a difficult situation. Following the last ballot, and faced with the impossibility of seeing a coalition government emerge, Parliament had to vote in May its own dissolution . A well-planned political maneuver to cut the grass under President Reuven Rivlin, preventing him from entrusting the responsibility of forming a coalition to another MP that the winner, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had exhausted the deadline for reaching a government agreement. But will this tactic come to fruition? Or will it sound the death knell of the man who now holds the record of longevity at the head of the State of Israel before David Ben Gurion? Answer September 17 in a ballot that looks very tight.