Netanyahu speaks at his annual pre-Rosh Hashana toast .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu devoted his address at his annual pre-Rosh Hashana toast Wednesday night to sharp criticism of the Israeli media.
Speaking to Likud members at Airport City’s Avenue Hall near Ben-Gurion Airport, Netanyahu boasted about improving security, the economy and relations with world leaders, and said the press did not cover his accomplishments.
He said he advanced his holiday toast due to his upcoming first-ever trip by an Israeli leader to Latin America, and alleged that the public was unaware of his visit.
“Israelis appreciate our achievements, even though the overwhelming majority of the press does not cover our contributions,” Netanyahu said. “They prefer to present Israel as a state that is isolated and failing and facing a diplomatic tsunami. They simply don’t want the citizens of Israel to see our success.”
Netanyahu used US President Donald Trump’s term “fake news” and said “an industry of depression” was the best way to describe Israeli media.
“They won’t defeat us at the polling stations,” Netanyahu said. “The public is sick of the press... and the public knows the truth.”
Netanyahu accused the media of not covering the criminal investigations of former prime minister Ehud Olmert as much as they have covered his. He slammed allegations against his wife, Sara, as false, referring to a probe into how she has handled the finances of the Prime Minister’s Residence.
The prime minister also slammed the weekly anticorruption rallies in Petah Tikva and their organizers Meni Naftali and Eldad Yaniv. He said the press has not looked into who has been funding the rallies.
“They portray them as defenders of democracy,” Netanyahu said. “But one [Yaniv] has admitted to corrupting the rule of law in the past, and the other [Naftali] has asked for immunity from prosecution. What knights? What war against corruption? What a joke!”
Some 2,000 people attended the event, 1,000 fewer than a rally held for Netanyahu in Tel Aviv three weeks ago. But Netanyahu said 2,000 more had arrived, but that for safety reasons police had prevented them from entering.
Signs hoisted by Likud activists accused the media of trying to topple the prime minister and said the media would have to ask for forgiveness in pre-Rosh Hashana prayers.
Likud MKs said they were embarrassed by the speech and that Netanyahu had gone too far in his attacks on the press.
Labor leader Avi Gabbay said Netanyahu should have addressed the plight of the handicapped, the new school year, the housing crisis and traffic jams instead of attacking the media.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said Netanyahu was wrong to portray the press as an enemy. She said Netanyahu’s attacks were aimed at law enforcement authorities, in an attempt to intimidate them against indicting him.
“It is not the press that received tens of thousands of shekels for luxuries, it was not Meni Naftali who enticed the prime minister to purchase a submarine in a deal that gave his relative millions, and it was definitely not the Left who recorded him when he attempted to bribe a newspaper publisher in order to get better coverage,” Gal-On said.