Following calls by a number of the present coalition’s members, Israel will see an early election taking place in April, posing a possible threat to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yet with the release of Israeli campaign videos, it’s clear that the videos reflect an unwavering racism towards Arab citizens and Palestinians by authoritative figures.
Many of the election videos overtly exploit stereotypes of Arabs and Palestinians, whilst bragging about the casualties of Hamas terrorists “achieved” by each candidate. The campaign video of Anat Berko, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, features a man dressing as a “militant”, whilst other candidates, such as Benny Gantz, list their “confirmed Hamas kills” and “achievements” in Gaza, with the number likely to be including Palestinian civilian casualties. This cause for concern further grows upon realisation that Gantz is one of the most popular candidates within the opinion polls, most likely to be the strongest threat against Netanyahu, whilst the latter is facing possible criminal charges for a long running corruption scandal.
The video ideas are likely to have stemmed from the launch of a number of security operations beginning in December. With the increasing number of Hezbollah tunnels trying to penetrate the North of Israel, there are fresh security concerns adding to those sparked by the continuance of “March of Return” protests. By including this “Good/Evil” narrative, Gantz and Berko easily play on the anxieties of the Israeli population.
However, this can not be used as an excuse for the perpetuation of racist stereotypes, fuelling already rife Islamophobia. The election videos, as well as the giant billboard erected of Trump and Netanyahu in Tel Aviv as part of Netanyahu’s election campaign, has turned the elections into a race of the right wing. With the growing support of Trump, the left wing parties of Israel, who have often depended on international support to back their cries for Arab rights, have been effectively silenced as realistic runners in the election. The Israeli Labour party, led by Avi Gabbay who used famous tv shows such as ‘Friends’ in his election video, has faced historically low placings in opinion polls.
The movement of the US embassy to Jerusalem and the claiming of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital by Trump seemed to be only the start of the spiral away from peace. The passing last year of the “nation state” law states that only Jews have the right of self determination in the country, and that Arabic will be demoted to a second language, which has caused accusation of apartheid by both Arabs and international human rights organisations. It also supports the building of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, an action that is overtly against international law – yet Israel is still yet to face any repercussions, and is unlikely to do so.
The politics of the Middle East is becoming more and more futile with growing tensions between Iraq, Iran and the USA; regardless of the result, the Israeli elections are likely to fuel these tensions even further, with the high possibility of a right wing candidate being elected acting as a potential catalyst for further conflict.