Netanyahu's operation to dominate the discourse -analysis

The truth is that the very discussion of the issue is a victory for Netanyahu. Because they are so busy with the cameras, the press is not dealing with his criminal investigations.

By
September 9, 2019 17:30
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference in Hebron, September 4, 2019

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference in Hebron, September 4, 2019. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Reporters accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his way home from London last Friday were surprised to see that all he wanted to talk about was cameras at polling stations.

Normally, it’s the reporters who want to talk politics and the politicians who say they prefer to stick to substance. This time, it was the other way around, with Netanyahu clearly having a message he wanted to reiterate over and over again.

The reporters acquiesced, and the camera issue has dominated the discourse for an entire week, as the most crucial time in a political campaign approaches, considering the election is next week.

Even the most anti-Netanyahu pundits have written that the camera issue is a win-win situation for Netanyahu, because if the bill is passed, it could serve his cause of keeping down Arab turnout at the polls. If he doesn’t succeed, he can blame Blue and White, Avigdor Liberman, the legal establishment and other various other enemies.

The truth is that the very discussion of the issue is a victory for Netanyahu. Because they are so busy with the cameras, the press is not dealing with his criminal investigations, the national debt, matters of religion and state, or any other issue that hurts him and his Likud party.

Then again, it also does not appear to be as positive an issue for the prime minister as his bread-and-butter of war and peace. So why does Netanyahu want the cameras focused on cameras?

First of all, it makes him look transparent and clean, and his rivals look the opposite. That is a wonderful message for a prime minister with three criminal investigations hanging over his head.

Secondly, it allows him to fight against Arab voters and appeal to his right-wing base without doing or saying anything overtly racist. After all, he says he wants cameras everywhere, not just in Umm el-Fahm, and he calls his opponents “they.”

Thirdly, if Netanyahu loses the election, he can call the results into question. He might even get the announcement of the final results delayed in court.

Lastly, there are no casualties involved. For weeks, there were those who were openly speculating that if Netanyahu did poorly in the polls, he would escalate a war on multiple fronts. That would have made sense, because Netanyahu tends to go up in the polls whenever there is a security situation, whether it is going well or not.

They cited the 1997 movie Wag the Dog, in which an incumbent candidate fabricated a war to distract from a sex scandal. One of the benefits of a fabricated war was that no one was hurt.

It turns out Netanyahu did not need a war. The press allowed him to dominate the discourse without anyone losing an eye.

If he can keep this going for another week, his thinking it that Likud's chances of winning on September 17 will be that much better.


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