Imagine if an American presidential candidate made a plea to his supporters on election day with the following statement: “The Republican administration is in danger. Black voters are going en masse to the polls. Liberal NGOs are bringing them on buses.”
Even in a country where Chris Matthews is a media celebrity and Pamela Geller is an intellectual, the statement would be scandalous, a political death wish even. In Israel, however, the opposite is true.
In a message delivered in a video on Facebook, incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a sinister call appealing to ingrained racism in Israeli society:
“The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses.”
Netanyahu’s fight was not exactly against the Arabs. The Joint List, which united various Arab parties as a response to new Israeli laws aimed at reducing their representation in the Knesset, came third with 14 seats. Though this is an impressive showing nonetheless, it falls short of being an imminent threat to Netanyahu or the Labor (Zionist Union) Party.
Using an imagined Arab threat as a fearmongering tactic is an Israeli political staple. It is a notion founded before the creation of Israel over the ruins of historic Palestine in 1948. But what makes Netanyahu’s latest statement more important than usual is that the Israeli leader blew to bits a well-guarded secret – at least in corporate media – that Israel is a racist country. Not only did Netanyahu make the racist call to save his career and stay in the race, he actually won with a substantial margin precisely because of that very call.