One candidate is “unfit” and the other “corrupt.”
Sounds something like the 2016 presidential election in the United States, when Democrat Hillary Clinton charged now-President Donald Trump wasn’t capable of being president, and he labeled her “Crooked Hillary,” partly because of an email scandal that is ongoing.
But this fight is for prime minister of Israel, America’s close Middle East ally.
The Washington Post, called it “particularly vicious and personal.”
“With a small advantage in polls showing he can build a majority coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched an offensive against Benny Gantz, a former general whose centrist coalition poses a stiff challenge,” the report said. “Longtime Israeli political observers say Mr. Netanyahu’s campaign has been brutal even by the standards of Israeli elections, which are often slugfests.”
The current prime minister, the report said, has accused his challenger of being mentally unfit, and his political campaign has been running a series of ads featuring gaffes by Gantz.
“One ad features Mr. Gantz repeating the words ‘totally stable’ over and over, as the frame zooms in on his bulging eyes while scratchy, high-pitched string music from ‘Psycho’ plays,” the report explains.
Gantz, meanwhile, has charged Netanyahu’s re-election could trigger “a civil war.”
He’s harped on bribery and fraud claims a prosecutor has recommended against Netanyahu and accused him of running a “campaign of mind terrorism.”
The Post reports a poll by Israel Democracy Institute of Jerusalem discovered almost half of Jewish Israelis “don’t believe Mr. Netanyahu when he says he didn’t benefit from the submarine deal, the same survey also found that a right-wing government led by Mr. Netanyahu is the preference of 39 percent of Jewish Israeli voters, a plurality.”
There’s even a Russia angle in the Israeli election.
The Israel-based Haaretz reported the abrupt announcement recently by Netanyahu of a summit in Moscow with Vladimir Putin.
“Either there is an acute crisis concerning Israel’s involvement in Syria, or Netanyahu is using the Russian president as a campaign prop, with what can only be his active collaboration,” the report said.
One thing that’s uncertain, however, is whether there’s been outside interference in the election.
During the last election in Israel, it was confirmed President Obama actively was trying to oust Netanyahu.
The American Center for Law and Justice revealed last year it uncovered documents showing the Obama State Department even misled Congress about U.S. tax money being used to try to manipulate the results of an election in Israel.
The organization confirmed that through its Freedom of Information Act case involving the U.S. State Department’s support for OneVoice Israel and OneVoice Palestine, it obtained revealing information.
“While the United States regularly issues grants to international organizations that provide services such as humanitarian relief, educational opportunities, and even opportunities and activities aimed at encouraging democratic voter participation, it turns out the OneVoice organizations went well beyond such measures and actively campaigned against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the 2015 elections – using resources established and developed with grant funds from the Obama State Department,” ACLJ said.
And, ACLJ found, “one of the senior advisers to OneVoice Palestine was none other than the son of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority – something the Obama Administration clearly knew (since these documents were in its possession).”
“In short, U.S. taxpayer funds were distributed by the Obama State Department to two sister organizations with clear political goals of undermining – indeed, unseating – the sitting prime minister of a U.S. ally,” ACLJ said.
Lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., wrote to the Obama administration about their concerns.
ACLJ said the records it has obtained in the FOIA case show the government then claimed to the legislators “there is absolutely no basis to claims that the Department of State has funded efforts to influence the current Israeli election campaign.”
“That was simply not true,” the ACLJ report said. “At best, the Obama State Department shirked its responsibility by failing to gather all the facts from key officials before responding to an inquiry by members of Congress. At worst, it intentionally misled them.
“What we the people have since learned is that State Department (i.e., U.S. taxpayer) funds were in fact used (even if indirectly) for precisely this purpose. As the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs concluded, OneVoice absolutely ‘did use the campaign infrastructure and resources that it had built, in part, with State Department funds to support a campaign to defeat Prime Minister Netanyahu in the 2015 elections,’” ACLJ said.
It said some $350,000 in U.S. taxpayer funds were used by the Obama administration on that project.