Though I didn’t vote for Netanyahu I’m nevertheless troubled by the disproportionate brouhahazz in world media about his last-minute call to supporters to go out and vote so as to offset what he called the “droves of Arabs” flowing to the polling stations, knowing well that most of them would vote against him.
He was immediately strongly criticized and continues to be criticized by President Obama, Conservative rabbis, the New York Times and even by Israel President Rivlin. Certainly Netanyahu’s choice of words was unfortunate. One may wonder whether, if he had referred to droves of opposition voters, rather than Arabs his call would have attracted less attention.
The reason I’m troubled by this reaction is that it highlights the manner in which Israel is consistently singled out. Sinister interpretations are given to unimportant events in Israel that go almost unnoticed when they occur elsewhere. When they occur in Israel, they immediately make negative headlines around the world with no serious analysis or context.
For example hardly anyone noticed or cared to comment when First Lady Michelle Obama blatantly used the race card urging Blacks to vote Democrat ((Washingtom Times, (not Washington Post). Nov. 4, 2014)). Realistically, her remarks were more openly racist than those of Netanyahu.
In what could only be interpreted as patronizing she said to her audience:
“DON’T THINK – Vote Democrat, Celebrate With Fried Chicken”. [emphasis added].
According to the report she told a television audience composed of mostly Black watchers that voting Democrat was really the right thing to do – NO MATTER WHO IS ON THE BALLOT,”[emphasis added]
“That’s my message to voters,” she said, to “NewsOne Now” host Roland Martin on TV One.
“This isn’t about Barack. It’s not about the person on the ballot it’s about you. And for most of the people that we’re talking to, a Democratic ticket is the clear ticket that we should be voting on, regardless of who said what or did this. That shouldn’t even come into the equation.”
In view of the intrinsic adversarial nature of party politics in the USA, the First Lady’s above mentioned tactics in addressing Black voters are unsurprising and caused no media frenzy. They may even be excusable in the circumstances. Similar narrow political party divisions in Europe and Britain that are often accompanied by fiery pre-election extremist rhetoric are treated as one day wonders, if reported at all. Why then, we must ask again, are the media and some politicians perpetuating the current frenzy of criticism about the remark by PM Netanuahu which in essence was milder and less offensive than the many more egregious statements by politicians elsewhere?
Interestingly, political satirist Bill Maher, host of Real Time on HBO introduced a sense of proportion by questioning whether Netanyahu’s election rhetoric was racist.
Let me ask the question I was going to ask about this, which is when he said that, ‘Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls,’ I heard a lot of commentators here say, it would be as if Mitt Romney in 2012 on the eve of the election said Black voters are coming out in droves to the polls. But I don’t know if that’s really a great analogy. I think that would be a good analogy if America was a country that was surrounded by 12 or 13 completely black nations who had militarily attacked us many times, including as recently as last year. Would we let them vote? I don’t know. When we were attacked by the Japanese, we didn’t just not let them vote, we rounded them up and put them in camps.