Just after the defeat in the elections, the chairman of the Zionist Union, Isaac Herzog faced the camera in an interview with Channel 2. He accused Netanyahu of running a campaign of intimidation and racism.
During the interview Saturday night, Herzog admitted that even before the results of the sample on election night were released, he already heard rumors of a close battle, but after seeing the results he did not stop believing for a moment that everything was still wide open. “When I saw the amendments, I thought I could still form a government,” he explained. “I had contacts with all the leaders of the parties in advance for all kinds of options, and I realized that Netanyahu did not have a bloc. I went to bed, and fell asleep feeling great. At a quarter to seven came the announcement and we realized that we must respond to the situation as it had developed in front of us.”
When reminded of the word that accompanied his campaign, “revolution”, he insisted he was convinced they were on the way there. “For two and a half months, Netanyahu kept reinventing himself. He went down to a set of lies, incitement and racism. He touched a deep point of sadness and racism when he told everyone – Arabs are swarming and surrounding us – I cannot do that”. However, Herzog noted that Garbuz speech on “kissers of mezzuzot” was offensive: “We need to stop talking nonsense and being condescending,” the Labor leader said.
Although his party had the optimal conditions for replacing the government, including the Prime Minister’s embarrassing episodes and mobilization of foreign sources for his benefit, Herzog blamed the failure mainly on Netanyahu’s campaign of intimidation. “In this respect he succeeded and I admit that I learned a lesson that it may be that whoever lies more, gets more and that is the most dangerous thing for the Israeli public.” He added that he did the most he could for his party, and that the obsession surrounding the rotation with Livni was ineffective.
“We saw the Israeli politics, I did not stumble or do anything wrong, I brought my party results that they have not seen since 1992. Any other person in this situations, I doubt if he would come to this result. I have all the strength to lead the party and will do everything to replace Netanyahu the next time,” said Herzog.
In response, Likud Party said: “The demonization and a campaign of intimidation was actually led by the left under the slogan ‘anyone but Bibi’. The leftist campaign was full of slander and described Israel, in part, as a third world nation. Netanyahu sees himself as prime minister of all citizens of Israel and he respects the right of all citizens, regardless of religion, race or gender, to participate in the democratic process. The Prime Minister referred to the attempt to tip the election results through foreign funding in favor of certain parties to change the government in Israel. “
Netanyahu’s reference to the Arabs coming out in droves to vote has drawn criticism from all sectors. Almost 70% of Israeli Arabs voted in the election. In the previous election, Arab turnout for voting was about 50%. The last time Labor won an election was when Ehud Barak led the party. He received 94% of the Arab vote. It is not known how many Arabs voted for Labor this election though Labor and several NGO’s worked very hard and invested millions of dollars to increase Arab turnout at the polls. The NGO, Givat Haviva, brought a group of Arab mayors to America to learn campaigning techniques. Significant funding came from the US State Department