If, as the Israeli media suggested, it was domestic political concerns that prompted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to show up at the Paris unity march — and bustle his way to the photo-op foreground — the result has been a measure of media blowback at home.
Some Israeli media offered scathing critiques, Haaretz describing “the prime minister’s embarrassing trip to France” as “a PR disaster.” Rival candidate and erstwhile coalition partner Yair Lapid piled on, saying “the prime minister’s behavior in Paris shows the world the impolite Israeli, the pushy Israeli, and it’s unfortunate.” But Netanyahu’s supporters shot back, castigating the critics as politically motivated and pointing out that Netanyahu’s place in the front row was in line with French protocol that required it for national leaders.
Israeli media pranksters, however, took things a step further. First, there was Noy Alooshe — the mashup artist who achieved global online renown for his legendary “zenga-zenga” Gaddafi parody — who offered the following commentary on Netanyahu’s march, relying on the soundtrack and the pacing of the clip to make his point:
Then came Tuesday’s release of an online video game from the opposition Labor Party, titled “Push the Bibi,” in which the user is challenged to maneuver the Israeli Prime Minister to the front of the march:
That may be just the latest salvo in an Israeli election campaign whose new-generation advertising is getting increasingly nasty. Right-wing Likud legislator Danny Danon prompted a police complaint by Haneen Zoabi, an Arab member of the Knesset, for a campaign video in which he portrayed himself as an old Western sheriff violently ejecting Zoabi from the Knesset and associating her with Hamas.
A new season of Israeli innovation, then, in the dark art of bare-knuckled political campaigning.