TEL AVIV, Israel — If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’scampaign for re-election will be remembered for one thing, it will likely be the unabashed vilification of Israel’s Arab citizens, who represent a fifth of the country’s population.
He accused Arabs of stealing the inconclusive April vote. Five days before last week’s election, his official Facebook page said that Arabs “want to annihilate us all — women, children and men,” although the Likud Party later disowned the statement.
Yet, these efforts to suppress the Arab vote by a prime minister who is known as a political wizard appear to have backfired.
“The incitement against the Arabs was very strong provocation from Netanyahu,” said Thabet Abu Rass, co-director of the Abraham Initiatives, a joint Arab-Jewish organization working toward equality in Israel.
“Arab voters didn’t like that, and they decided to do something about it.”