Netanyahu's Anti-Arab Remarks May Have Pushed Him To Victory

In a tight election race, The Times of Israel reports that it may have been Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's appeal to anti-Arab racism that pushed the Likud party to winning last week.

Pollster Mina Tzemach's survey showed Likud behind the center-left Zionist Union on election day, March 17. That was until Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook warning supporters, ”The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are bussing them out.”

Labor party leader Isaac Herzog, who led the Zionist Union, had been leading Likud by three to four parliamentary seats at noon local time that day. Yet, the votes turned in Likud's favor after the video was posted at 12:23 p.m. In addition, by 5 p.m., Tzemach's polls showed the Likud moving towards a tie with the Zionist Union. By 10 p.m., her exit poll shows Likud claiming 28 seats in the 120-member Knesset to the Zionist Union's 27 seats.

Similar to other exit polls, it understated Likud's win since Netanyahu's party actually claimed 30 seats to Zionist Union's 24. While Netanyahu's remarks were widely criticized--even by President Obama, many wondered if they were the turning point in Netanyahu's victory. A week later, Netanyahu did apologize for the comments. He addressed a group of Arab leaders saying he was sorry for the offense he caused.

Photo: Jewish Exponent

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