What racism?

You would think that before New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman accused Benjamin Netanyahu of playing the race card on election day, he would do at least do his homework. Apparently not.

Friedman, whose anti-Netanyahu bias mirrors that at the Times, accused Netanyahu in a recent column of using “anti-Arab dog whistles to get elected”.  He was referring, of course, to a post on Netahyahu’s Facebook page, in the midst of the ongoing election day, exhorting Likud voters to turn out in greater numbers, in order to balance the fact that Arab voters were being bused to the polls en masse by leftist organizations affiliated with Likud’s rival, the Zionist Union (Labor Party), and financed by foreign money.

Friedman’s accusation was accompanied by a Times editorial accusing Netanyahu of racism, and followed by two days worth of Times articles about how this alleged racism has forever tainted Netanyahu’s victory and torn apart the mostly liberal American Jewish community.

Having voted for every Democratic presidential, senatorial and congressional candidate since 1966, I consider myself a member of that community and, to tell you the truth, I am not offended by Netanyahu’s Facebook post. In fact, I just don’t get what the fuss is.

As far as any notion of affecting the election, that is just ludicrous. Likud succeeded in earning healthy pluralities in every city except Tel Aviv and Haifa. I don’t believe that there were many undecided voters anxiously looking at Bibi’s Facebook for guidance.

Where Friedman and the Times are shamefully negligent is in their failure to properly understand, or if they did understand, to accurately portray, the political dynamic that makes Netanyahu’s post a legitimate comment, and not a racist one.

The entire recent election was a referendum on Netanyahu. The Zionist Union was formed for the express purpose of unseating him, and it’s leaders, as well as the leaders of the other parties on the left, vowed to do “everything in their power” to remove him.  It is no secret that they were supported in this effort by foreign organizations.

The Join Arab List, which included some Israeli Arab candidates interested in improving the lives of their constituents, was otherwise composed of Islamist radicals and toxic politicians like Hanin Zoabi, who side with Hamas and are open about their desire to destroy Israel. While they have previously run as members of separate Arab parties, they banded together in this election for the main purpose of blocking the Likud from getting enough seats to form a coalition. Thus this party of seditionists such as  Zoabi,  had the Zionist Union prevailed, would have given Labor the mandates to support forming a Labor-led coalition, and might find itself serving in the government of Israel  alongside it.

So here on election day, was the Zionist Union, supported by foreign money, financing the Arab Lists’ turnout drive by bringing them in busses to the poll.  Most would agree that it is unethical for a political party to secretly finance a third political party for the purpose of undermining a rival party in an election.

This context should have been apparent to Friedman and the Times.  Netanyahu wasn’t complaining about Arabs voting, or subtly sending racist messages to non-existent Facebook masses in order to get elected.  What he was complaining about, with good reason, was an anti-democratic tactic by those who were attempting to create a fake majority to unseat him.  Friedman and the Times should know better.

About the Author
Bennett M. Epstein has B.A. and JD degrees and has practiced law as a prosecutor and defense attorney since 1969. He has also been an adjunct professor of criminal law.