‘PM didn’t know about ad linking Israeli workers, Hamas’

Following backlash, defense minister says scrapped spot featuring Netanyahu was ‘tasteless and unnecessary’

Controversial advertisement of post-Netanyahu support group that was quickly pulled by the Likud party. (photo credit: screenshot/Likud)
Controversial advertisement of post-Netanyahu support group that was quickly pulled by the Likud party. (photo credit: screenshot/Likud)

Following the uproar over a Likud election advertisement last week that portrayed various Israeli workers and a Hamas member complaining during an anti-Benjamin Netanyahu support group, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon claimed the prime minister, despite appearing in the clip, did not see the ad, intimating that he did not realize it was offensive.

“The prime minister did not see it,” Ya’alon said, according to the Ynet news site. “It is tasteless and unnecessary and it’s a shame it saw the light of day.”

The tongue-in-cheek ad shows an Alcoholics Anonymous-style support circle featuring actors playing a cellphone company executive, a port worker, an Israel Broadcasting Authority tax collector and a Hamas terrorist voicing their contempt for the Netanyahu government’s policies during his previous term.

At the end of the advertisement, Netanyahu appears before the group and vows to continue to push through reforms and deal with ongoing security challenges head-on.

The defense minister said Netanyahu’s bit was edited into the clip and he did not see the final product. “Someone,” said Ya’alon — likely the campaign manager — made a failed attempt at humor.

Ya’alon’s explanation was met with skepticism.

MK Itzik Shmuli from the center-left Zionist Union said it was hard to believe Netanyahu didn’t know about the ad if he himself was in it.

“Either someone in the Likud thinks we’re all idiots, or the party has lost touch with reality, which makes it clear why housing prices continue to rise, [wage] gaps are widening and ties with the US are being destroyed,” he was quoted by Ynet as saying.

The Likud pulled the ad last Thursday and apologized. But it was still available online.

In the ad, a “port worker” — head of a fictitious “tea department” — complains that he used to work three hours a week for an exorbitant monthly salary of NIS 50,000-60,000 ($12,500-$15,000) before bonuses. “Until the reform [of the port authority] came along. All of a sudden we had to actually start working, to serve the public. It’s awful!” he says.

The woman portraying the worker at the IBA’s tax collection department asked who she will levy taxes on, now that the government decided to terminate television and broadcasting fees starting in late 2015.

The “cellphone company executive” lamented that he had to sell his exotic pet tiger that had become unaffordable given that he was no longer able to swindle ordinary Israelis with exceedingly high cellphone fees.

A “Hamas member” from Gaza dressed in full terrorist regalia, and speaking in very bad Arabic-accented Hebrew, said that he too joined the support group “because of Bibi,” using the prime minister’s nickname. He was there presumably to complain about the state of the terror organization following last summer’s war with Israel in which the group suffered significant setbacks, according to the government.

After the clip aired Thursday, IBA workers took to Twitter to publish posts that read “Prime Minister Netanyahu, I am not Hamas,” and signed off with their job description and positions.

Histadrut labor union head Avi Nissenkorn said the video crossed a “red line” for comparing workers to Hamas murderers and called on Netanyahu to issue a personal apology.

Zahava Gal-on of the left-wing Meretz party also took a swipe, claiming that Israelis won’t buy into Netanyahu’s “fabricated achievements.”

“[I] must really tip my hat to the prime minister for this one. He has reached a new low with this video,” Gal-on said on Facebook.

“The name of the Hamas member in the ad is [Mustafa] ‘Abu-Lottie’ or Abu-gay [in Arabic]. Because to add to the bad taste, why not also use homophobic insults along the way?” she asked.

The Zionist Union’s Shelly Yachimovich on Facebook called the video “unforgivable” for featuring “vile incitement” against workers.

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