Israeli social media exploded Wednesday and Thursday in reaction to a tweet by Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the prime minister attempted to shift focus from the findings of a state report on the country’s housing crisis to Iran’s nuclear program.
Were it not, in fact, composed by the prime minister’s social media team, the tweet could have perfectly encapsulated any parody writer’s depiction of Netanyahu’s somber tone and doomsday rhetoric.
“When we talk about the price of housing, about the cost of living, I don’t forget life itself for a single moment,” read the tweet on Netanyahu’s official account. “The greatest challenge in our lives is currently Iran’s bid to acquire nuclear weapons.”
Within hours of Netanyahu’s statement, several pages dedicated to mocking the tweet went live on Facebook, and dozens of users offered their own interpretations of the prime minister’s words.
One such page called “Yes, But Iran,” which featured memes and pictures with a twist on Netanyahu’s tweet, garnered thousands of followers overnight.
A Photoshopped image of a note posted to a car went viral Wednesday night as well, as the message displayed in the letter informed the driver that while his vehicle had been slightly damaged in an accident, the true issue was the threat posed by the possibility of Iran achieving nuclear capabilities.
On Twitter, blogger and digital culture journalist Ido Kenan quipped that according to expert estimates, Iran would reach a production capacity of 900 apartments by the end of 2015.
The housing crisis report, written by State Comptroller Yosef Shapira, painted a stark picture of a stifling bureaucracy and political gridlock that led to shortages that drove up house prices up by 55 percent between 2008 and December 2013. Much of the criticism following the report was aimed at Netanyahu, who was accused of inaction as he held power for four out of the five years studied.
While Netanyahu has focused on the Iranian threat in campaigning ahead of elections on March 17, politicians in the opposition have looked to highlight economic issues, and will likely use the report to notch points against the prime minister.
“Mr. Economy is not Mr. Economy, but he is Mr. Crisis,” Zionist Union MK Stav Shaffir, one of the leaders of the 2011 cost of living protests, said of Netanyahu in a press conference in Tel Aviv after the report was released Wednesday. “We do not need a report to tell us this; everyone feels it in their pockets.”
Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog blamed Netanyahu for the stagnation in housing construction across the country.
“[Netanyahu] did not do anything in the housing sector, and Israeli residents are tired of hearing about the fights and the shifting of responsibilities between the minister of finance or the minister of housing and the prime minister,” Herzog said, according to Israel Radio.
Haviv Rettig Gur contributed to this report.