Buoyed by recent polls, Benjamin Netanyahu is hitting the campaign trail, hard.
The former prime minister is currently predicted to regain power when Israelis go to the polls (for the fifth time in four years) on November 1.
Still, he’s leaving nothing to chance, and while Interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid is taking full advantage of his time on the international stage, Netanyahu is out there shoring up his base constituency.
But he’s been asked to do so from inside a bubble. Literally.
Israel’s Shin Bet (the local equivalent of the FBI) is worried that years of campaigning by left-wing and even some right-wing parties against Netanyahu personally has made him a target. In particular, Netanyahu has been incessantly accused by his opponents of being a “fascist” and a “threat to democracy.”
Netanyahu has likened the slurs to incitement to violence. The Shin Bet hasn’t said as much, but apparently it does fear someone could take a shot at him.
Security officials informed Netanyahu’s campaign that he would need to conduct his appearances from behind protective glass.
Well, he’s making a lot of stops every day, and setting up such an apparatus would likely take longer than his brief speech at each location. So instead, Netanyahu and his team built a mobile stage on the back of a large truck with protective glass on one side. At each stop the truck rolls up, Netanyahu gets inside and addresses the local voters, and then they quickly move on.
But also a bit silly looking, even if it does speak to a very real threat to his life.
Images of Netanyahu speaking to the masses from inside a sealed bubble have further fueled opponents’ charges that he is an elitist and disconnected from the public.
Others have facetiously compared it to the “popemobile,” the glass-enclosed vehicle used by the Pope when he makes public appearances outside the Vatican. It perhaps doesn’t help that Netanyahu’s team has chosen an equally silly name for their vehicle – the “Bibi-Ba” bus, which translates as “Bibi is Coming.”
Campaign antics are one of Netanyahu’s calling cards. It’s worked for him in the past, and if the polls are right, it appears to be working again.
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