On Saturday, the Likud released an ad starring Prime Minister Netanyahu as “the kindergarten cop.” He is an adult in a room full of small children, scolding them and admonishing their behavior.
He reprimands the children — each artlessly representing a political rival — for refusing to share, for fighting over chairs, for breaking toys, and other childish antics. Bennett crashes two tanks together. Lapid is destroying a toy. Livni can’t sit still — she runs around the room wrecking everything. Only Netanyahu can see the damage, and he pleads for peace.
The ad ends with Bibi looking at the camera, stating, “There’s no time to waste. We can’t go on with a kindergarten like this. To run a country we need a strong and stable government. Vote Likud to change the system.”
Then, he gets smacked with a giant toy hammer and responds with “Enough! Tzipi [Livni].”
According to Haaretz, the ad might actually “violate Israel’s election law, which prohibits the use of children under 15 in campaign spots.” The Likud’s response was twofold: 1.) the children had all participated with parental consent, and 2.) the ad had been released accidentally. It had not yet been cleared by Likud’s PR department.
The video serves as an advertisement for Likud, but also seems to be Netanyahu explaining his rationale for disbanding his coalition and calling for early elections. This election is widely seen as pointless and wasteful. Netanyahu publicly fired two minister and called early elections, stating “I will not tolerate any opposition in my government.” He hopes to build a larger and more homogenous coalition. But the polls don’t offer much hope for unity or renewed strength for Netanyahu. While he may be in a stronger position after the March elections, he very well may not.
Regardless the outcome, if Bibi retains the prime ministership, he will certainly be working with several of the party heads he ridicules as children in this ad.
Bennett has announced an agreement with Netanyahu: neither will attack the other. (Granted, this ad seems at odds with the agreement.) According to rumors, Netanyahu promised Bennett the defense ministership as part of this agreement, although Bibi has denied this. While the ad might cause a rift between the two former partners, more importantly it underscores a distinct lack of confidence from Bibi towards Bennett. How could Bibi possibly put Bennett in charge of Israel’s defenses when just weeks prior he portrayed him as a child playing with toy tanks? How can he hope to build and publicly defend any future coalition, which will certainly be full of people he has described as unruly children? Will he be able to claim the mantle of mature adult as he makes concessions to the spoiled children of this ad?
It is also worth pondering the conclusion of the ad: Netanyahu asks Israelis to “vote Likud to change the system.” But Bibi campaigning for the Likud under the banner of change would be like Mitt Romney running for president under the guise of fighting poverty.
So Bibi dismantled his coalition because he couldn’t get everything that he wanted. He potentially broke his deal with Bennett. He used names and insulting imagery to bash his opponents. And then, after launching an ad — that might have violated election law — with the sole purpose of portraying himself as an adult among children, he resorted to petty excuses regarding its unintentional release.
It all seems a bit childish.
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