Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has displayed chutzpah by targeting One Voice, the pro-peace organization the Likud accuses of using illegal means to try to topple him, OneVoice head Daniel Lubetzky said Monday.
Lubetzky noted that the prime minister had been helped by Israel Hayom, a newspaper owned by American billionaire Sheldon Adelson.
“The chutzpah of this whole theatrical event I am watching is that the Likud and Netanyahu have received casino gambler Sheldon Adelson’s hundreds of millions of dollars without being concerned,” Lubetzky said. “Adelson has gone on record to say he doesn’t think Israel should be a democracy, and he has proceeded to fund propaganda outlets and entities to advance a messianic vision at the expense of the Israeli people.”
Lubetzky defended the activists of V15, the organization he helps fund, which is actively working to topple Netanyahu. He called its activists “young Israelis who left their safe jobs and for no pay have volunteered to mobilize concerned citizens to get out the vote and to amplify the voice of moderates, without letting the current prime minister of Israel intimidate them.”
An American digital media guru denied reports Monday that suggested he was sent by the Republicans in order to help Netanyahu win reelection.
Army Radio reported that the Likud employed Vincent Harris, who worked for Republican senators Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz. The report said the Likud complained about US President Barack Obama’s former field director, Jeremy Bird, advising groups working to unseat Netanyahu, even though they were using the same tactic.
Harris told The Jerusalem Post that he started working for the Likud more than six weeks ago, just like Republican strategist John McLauglin and just like other American strategists had worked for Netanyahu in other elections going back to 1996. He denied any connection between the senators and his employment with the Likud.
“I have not spoken to Senator Cruz or to Mitch McConnell about my job here,” he said. “My Israeli work is completely separate from my work in the US, so what is being reported is not true. I love Israel, and I am excited to be here to help the Likud and the prime minister use digital media in an effective and forward-looking manner.”
Likud officials said there was a big difference between Harris, who is employed by the Likud, and Bird, who has worked for OneVoice, an organization that has received funding from foreign governments and is working now to topple Netanyahu.
Cruz, a possible 2016 candidate for president, and New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin sent a letter on Thursday to Secretary of State John Kerry calling on the State Department inspector-general to investigate whether OneVoice Israel – part of the OneVoice Movement, a US-based nonprofit organization – has used US grant money to support its partnership with V15 and whether its actions violate its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
In response to Cruz’s letter, the OneVoice Movement said it received two grants from the State Department in the past year to help fund campaign in support of the Israeli- Palestinian negotiations, but according to both OneVoice and the State Department, both grants ended before December 2014 and are not part of OneVoice’s current campaign.
“No payment was made to OneVoice after November of 2014,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday.
Meanwhile, an incitement complaint was issued against the Likud on Monday, a day after the party held a press conference in which Likud MKs claimed that Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog improperly received funds from V15.
V15 issued the complaint, claiming that in a video clip shown by the Likud at the press conference, the group was portrayed as supporting terrorism.
“The Likud video proves that it has become a branch of the Lehava organization,” V15 stated, referencing the extremist right-wing anti-assimilation group.
The group added that its activists were “Israelis who serve in the army, do reserve duty, pay taxes and work for a better future for Israel.”
“This incitement does not scare us and it will not block our path to victory,” the group said.
In a Channel 2 interview, Herzog continued to deny any connection to V15, saying that before recent headlines about the organization he thought V15 was “either a plane or a medicine for impotency.”
Daniel Clinton contributed to this report.