Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to a series of news reports about alleged misuse of public funds at his residences for the first time Saturday night in a video clip his campaign released online.
The clip mocked reports about his wife, Sara, allegedly pocketing and only later returning money received from redeeming alcoholic- beverage bottles and about the large amount of money the Prime Minister’s Residence spent on pistachio ice cream.
“Mr. President, Israel is acting to defend its security,” Netanyahu is shown saying on the phone at the beginning of the clip before he is interrupted by an aide saying “Mr. Prime Minister, there is a new scandal: Snails in the garden!” The aide then interrupts him repeatedly to tell him about “scandals” such as “dirty cups in the sink and “a popsicle that dripped on the sofa.” Netanyahu tells the aide he wants ice cream, but not pistachio.
The “reports” come from two media outlets that have targeted him recently and are owned by Netanyahu critic Noni Mozes. Yediot Aharonot, whose name means “recent reports” in Hebrew, is called “Lying Reports” on the masthead of the paper reporting the “scandals” and Ynet is called “Lie-net.”
“They are trying to distract you from what really matters with nonsense,” Netanyahu says at the end of the clip.
“But we deal with the important things: Who will secure the security of our children? Who will make our economy grow?” Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog responded with his own video explaining why he has not released his own amusing clips.
“Over the past few weeks, there have been several funny clips that have gone online portraying Bibi as a kindergarten teacher and as a babysitter,” Herzog says. “I have received many calls to also make funny clips. But the truth is that the situation in Israel is not funny. A third of the children being under the poverty line is not funny.
Young couples living with their parents because they can’t afford to buy an apartment is not funny, either. A few months ago, an entire country sat in bomb shelters and that is really not funny.”
The video ends with Herzog telling Netanyahu to “continue to make clips like a clown,” but that “as prime minister you failed.”
Herzog released a video on Thursday in which he challenged Netanyahu to a debate.
“Why don’t you want to debate me?” he asks in the video, which he posted to Facebook. “What, are you afraid of me? Are your advisers telling you ‘Don’t debate him?’ Look, I just want to talk. You and me, in front of all the people of Israel.”
Netanyahu’s campaign released a clip in response in which the prime minister is shown watching Herzog’s video while sitting on the couch, eating popcorn and laughing at him.
Herzog told Channel 10 on Saturday night that he, unlike Netanyahu, was dealing with serious issues and not nonsense. Herzog said the V15 organization, which is working to topple Netanyahu and had been criticized for receiving foreign contributions, was unwanted and “just bothers our campaign.”