Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued his campaign of defamation of the Joint List alliance by publishing a picture of one of its members with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The picture posted today, which shows Arab-Israeli MK Ahmad Tibi shaking hands with Erdogan had the caption, "Gantz's partners," referring to opposition leader Benny Gantz who heads the Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) alliance.
Tibi responded to the post saying: "Netanyahu is in distress, and he is inciting by all means. I continue to communicate with the leaders and heads of the region and the world, and President Erdogan has positions in support of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people, and a just peace and is thanked for it. I tell Netanyahu that after the elections, I will visit Turkey again."
Netanyahu sought to make viewers perceive Gantz as allied and sympathetic with both Tibi and Erdogan, following the Joint List's endorsement for Gantz to leader of a government in the hopes that such a coalition would topple Netanyahu. Gantz has, however, declared that he will never support Arab MKs or the Joint List in an Israeli government or allow them to join his coalition.
This is not the first time Netanyahu has used the Arab MKs to flare up support during elections; he previously called on his supporters to come out to counter Arabs who would be voting "in droves", and last year when he claimed that "Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men." With his populist right-wing base, known for often supporting action and strikes on the Gaza Strip and the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, inciting fears against Palestinians within Israeli society has long been a common theme in order to get re-elected.
This was further proven today, when an organisation called 7amleh – The Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media – published the results of its Index of Racism and Incitement in Israeli Social Media in 2019. Conducted on an annual basis, the results show that "the peak of incitement against Palestinians and Arabs in 2019 was correlated with the two rounds of Israeli election[s]." This was discovered by seeing that there has been a 14 per cent rise in violent language and discourse towards Arabs, with one violent post about them posted every 64 seconds on social media.
It also showed that last year, there was a significant rise in the numbers of insulting and abusive posts towards Palestinians and Arabs, with almost 495,000 violent ones out of 5.4 million posts about them, compared to 464,000 out of 4.7 million posts made in 2018 – a five per cent rise. An eight per cent rise was then seen after the two election rounds last year.
The Joint List MKs Ayman Odeh and Ahmad Tibi were also shown to have received the second and third most racist and violent comments by social media users.