A comparison of a speech delivered by electoral hopeful Benny Gantz on Sunday and one given by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a few months ago has revealed a series of surprising similarities.
“Spot the differences: Did Gantz copy Netanyahu?” read the headline Monday on Channel 12 news, as it played back sound bites from Gantz’s speech, his first in English, at a security conference in Munich, with corresponding ones from Netanyahu in an address at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
Gantz: “Many in the Arab world have realized that Israel is not part of the problem, but part of the solution.”
Netanyahu: “Many other states in the region recognize that Israel is not their enemy, they recognize that Israel is their ally.”
Gantz: “I lost many of my friends, I have witnessed the horror of war.”
Netanyahu: “I was nearly killed in battle, I lost many friends.”
Gantz: “Terror strikes in Baghdad, Paris.”
Netanyahu: “It runs through Paris and Nice, Brussels and Baghdad.”
Gantz: “… and New York.”
Netanyahu: “…Minnesota and New York.”
Gantz: “… havoc in Tel Aviv.”
Netanyahu: “…Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.”
Gantz: “Iran hates gays, it oppresses women, it (persecutes) minorities and violates human rights.”
Netanyahu: “…hangs gays, jails journalists, tortures political prisoners and shoots innocent women.”
Gantz: “The strength of Israel will not lie nor repent.”
Netanyahu: “The light of Israel will never be extinguished.”
Gantz: (In Hebrew): “Netzah Israel lo yeshaker”
Netanyahu: (In Hebrew): “Netzah Israel lo yeshaker”
— החדשות (@NewsChannelIL) February 18, 2019
In his Munich address, Gantz — a former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff who recently formed the Israel Resilience party in a bid to unseat Netanyahu in the April 9 national elections — presented a security and foreign policy doctrine that was hard to distinguish from the prime minister’s.
Pundits interpreted Gantz’s presence at a prominent international forum with many global leaders present as an attempt to show voters that he, like Netanyahu, who often touts his strong ties with presidents and prime ministers, can hold his own and promote Israel’s cause on the international stage.
But in his Munich address, Gantz lacked the fluency and strong English delivery that the prime minister possesses, and commentators were quick to pick up on its similarity to well-worn Netanyahu talking points.
In his speech, Gantz came out swinging against Iran, while also hailing Israel’s tech prowess and reaching out to the Jewish state’s Arab neighbors.
He also said that while he has many disagreements with Netanyahu, the two saw eye-to-eye on security.
“It is no secret that Prime Minister Netanyahu is my political rival. We disagree on many issues,” Gantz said. “But make no mistakes – we are both devoted sons of the same nation. When Israel’s security is under threat, there is no daylight between us. On this critical issue there is no right or left. There is no coalition or opposition.”
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem a few hours before Gantz’s Munich speech, Netanyahu accused his rival of trying to take credit for his own policy on the Iranian nuclear program.
“I stood my ground, and that turned the tide of events and produced a historic pivot,” Netanyahu told ministers. “Now there are all sorts of opportunists trying to take advantage, but the public knows perfectly well how to distinguish true leadership from amateurish impersonation.”
The Israel Resilience party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.