Culture Minister Miri Regev reportedly fumed this week at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and cancelled her participation in campaign events after she was not included in a group selfie of senior Likud Party members taken in Jerusalem.
After an internal poll indicated that Regev wasn’t drawing new audiences to vote for the ruling party in next month’s elections and could even be deterring some Israelis from backing Likud, the party decided to play down her prominence in the campaign, Channel 12 news reported Thursday.
Regev, a vocal supporter of Netanyahu, placed fifth in the recent Likud party primary (sixth after including Netanyahu), making her the highest ranking woman on the party’s list.
The photo, taken Monday in Jerusalem, featured Netanyahu along with other top Likud candidates — including Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Transportation Minister Israel Katz, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, former Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Immigrant absorption Minister Yoav Galant and former Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar — but without Regev, who placed higher than several in the picture.
The caption was “a united leadership for a Likud victory.”
— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) March 11, 2019
The photo was widely derided for it’s lack of diversity, a point which Regev agreed with.
The report said Regev was furious over the decision, proclaiming that the party wants to put forward a campaign of only Ashkenazi men.
The minister canceled her appearances on the online propaganda outlet Likud TV this week in response to the move, saying that those who took part in the selfie “are welcome to take the screen time at the Likud studio.”
Efforts have been made to calm down the tensions, and the report said party officials were optimistic that the crisis could be overcome.
Likud responded to the report by saying Netanyahu “values” Regev and that she is highly popular within Likud and among the public. It said Regev would continue being a significant part of the party’s campaign.
Since assuming her role as culture minister following the 2015 elections, Regev has caused some controversy over numerous threats to cut state funding for cultural productions and organizations that she deems to be disloyal to the Jewish state. The minister’s threats and typically unapologetic tone have garnered her massive grassroots support in some sections of the right.
Netanyahu launched Likud TV earlier this month as a means of bypassing traditional media.
In a move reminiscent of Donald Trump’s online election campaign broadcasts, Likud TV airs each evening at 7 p.m. on Netanyahu’s official Facebook page and on a new Likud TV page from a studio within the party’s headquarters in Tel Aviv.