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Likud PR firm’s admission cameras were to intimidate voters should reopen polls

The disgraceful boast by a Likud PR firm that their hidden camera ploy cut voting in half should prompt an extraordinary response
Hidden cameras at polling stations confiscated from operatives of Kaizler Inbar, who had been retained by Likud (Screenshot, Twitter, @samiaah10)
Hidden cameras at polling stations confiscated from operatives of Kaizler Inbar, who had been retained by Likud (Screenshot, Twitter, @samiaah10)

You can’t make this stuff up. The PR firm behind the 1,350 hidden cameras at Arab polling places on Election Day, Kaizler Inbar, is taking credit for lowering the Arab turnout rate to under 50%. They are a PR company, so it’s possible they’re trying to present themselves as effective, but their statement warrants a historic investigation and a total reconsideration of the final Arab vote tally. Even if their statement that they actually helped lower the vote is difficult to demonstrate, their statement clearly illustrates an intent to lower the Arab turnout. This isn’t a racist PR stunt anymore – this would be clear voter intimidation.

Screenshot of Kaizler Inbar post on Facebook claiming their observers helped push Arab turnout below 50% (Screenshot, Facebook)

As the post explains, “Thanks to the fact that our observers were placed in all polling stations, the percentage of voters dropped below 50%, the lowest seen in the last few years!”

With the turnout as low as it was, that should be grounds to challenge the integrity of the elections in every single district where these cameras and their operatives were deployed. A failure to recognize this deliberate attack on fair elections by the ruling party would be a permanent blemish on Israeli democracy.

Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, who runs the Central Elections Committee, already told Likud to remove the equipment on Election Day. But this admission by Kaizler Inbar changes the nature of the cameras. In this case, we have a situation where checks and balances demand the Supreme Court hear arguments over the illegitimacy of the vote. In addition, the Attorney General must investigate this as a criminal conspiracy to intimidate voters by inserting party operatives within polling places themselves.

It also fits a pattern of behavior, reflecting the racist comments on Election Day in 2015, demonstrating a motive for the Prime Minister to try and reduce those voter numbers here in 2019. The Prime Minister has publicly admitted hiring this firm and approving this deployment of cameras. We now have a public admission from those hired that they considered the success of their strategy to be a lower voter turnout. The pieces are there to stay unequivocally that the Prime Minister of the State of Israel intentionally directed a racist campaign to suppress votes.

A hidden camera allegedly snuck into a polling station in an Arab town by a Likud observer during Israel's parliamentary elections on April 9, 2019. (Courtesy Hadash-Ta'al)
A hidden camera allegedly snuck into a polling station in an Arab town by a Likud observer during Israel’s parliamentary elections on April 9, 2019. (Courtesy Hadash-Ta’al)

A challenge here to the final result would be unprecedented, but a successful appeal doesn’t mean the entire election would have to be rerun, a headache that might make the Supreme Court hesitate and open new questions about people changing their votes. No, all the Supreme Court has to do is grant anyone who was assigned to these 1,000+ polling places but didn’t vote on Election Day the option to now do so – an extension to deliver a ballot. This would ensure a fair chance to anyone who might have actually been deterred from polling places to cast a vote in the 2019 elections.

The actions of the Prime Minister constitute a grave infraction against the practice or democracy and equality before the law, where a sitting head of state has deliberately – with strong evidence against him already known to the public – attempted to use the weight of his power to reduce the vote of political rivals. This is made even more grave because of the deliberately racist nature of the conspiracy.

It is now up to Israelis and their institutions to protest this event before the Elections Committee, the Interior Ministry and ultimately the Supreme Court. The Likud Party leadership that was not involved in this act of deception must weigh the consequences of allowing Benjamin Netanyahu to be unaccountable in a situation he has specifically connected himself to. Israel’s democracy is now truly and indisputably at stake.

About the Author
Gedalyah Reback is an experienced writer on technology, startups, the Middle East and Islam. He also focuses on issues of personal status in Judaism, namely conversion.
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