Labor Party Chair Avi Gabbay.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay caused an uproar on Monday when he mistakenly said the Western Wall belongs to the Christians and got caught lying about funding a negative social media campaign to harm the image of Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid.
Gabbay’s statement about the holy site was to the AJC’s Global Forum in Jerusalem.
“All of you, brothers and sisters, ultra-Orthodox or Orthodox, Conservative or Reform, affiliated or unaffiliated, Christian or non-Christian, you are all our brothers and sisters,” Gabbay told the crowd. “That is why the Kotel [Western Wall] belongs to all of us equally.”
Zionist Union officials said Gabbay merely misspoke. They said he mentioned Christians because there were Christians in the audience, but he did not intend to say that the Wall belongs to them.
Gabbay’s mistake came the same day Channel 2 reported that Gabbay’s Labor Party paid a company called Spotlight Political Research more than NIS 1 million to run two social media pages that regularly attacked Lapid in a harsh way.
“Imagine that in the middle of the night, the head of the Mossad calls to say a nuclear reactor has been discovered,” one of the social media pages asked. “What does Prime Minister Yair Lapid do? Add more gel, look at a teleprompter and find there is nothing written there? This is the man who will decide if we go to war, if we destroy our threats or no? Scary.”
Labor responded that it is determined to win the election and end Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rule, and to that end, the party uses digital media and external advisers as every political party in Israel does.
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“We don’t understand Lapid’s crybaby campaign,” the Zionist Union said. “Everything was done by law and was properly reported. Those who get hysterical over a Facebook page that presents only the truth and proven facts must ask himself if he chose the correct profession.”
The confirmation contradicted a statement Gabbay made on live television on the same channel the previous week when asked if his party was funding a mudslinging campaign against Lapid.
“We are not dealing with such things,” Gabbay said. “We are dealing with replacing the government in Israel. Lapid is bluffing, of course.”
Gabbay was referring to an accusation Lapid hadmade against him and Netanyahu at Yesh Atid’s faction meeting.
“Over the past several weeks, we have witnessed an enormous attack of fake news against Yesh Atid, and against me personally,” Lapid said. “I’ve never seen so many lies. It’s not coming from the fringes, it’s coming from the leadership.
It’s being led by Netanyahu’s people, but the Zionist Union have also put money into it.
They’ve convinced themselves that it’s okay to lie, it’s okay to distort, and it’s okay to invent things.”
Yesh Atid reacted to Labor’s admission that it was behind the campaign by saying: “Lapid was right all along that his opponents were using taxpayer funds for nasty mudslinging campaigns. Are these Labor’s values? How are they not ashamed? And no, not every party does it. We don’t.”
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