Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday ramped up his nationalistic rhetoric ahead of Israel's general election on April 9.
Netanyahu and his Likud are keen to frame the election as a battle for the Jewish soul of the State of Israel, which he insists will be threatened if the centrist and left-wing parties emerge victorious.
With recent polls showing that the centrist "Blue and White" faction will win more seats than Likud–conceivably making its leader, Benny Gantz, the next prime minister–Culture Minister and Netanyahu-confidante Miri Regev sounded an urgent warning in a weekend interview on Israeli television.
Regev insisted that in order to cobble together a majority coalition, Blue and White would have to include the Arab parties, which openly promote a hostile Palestinian agenda, much to the chagrin of many Israeli Arab voters. It's a message that Netanyahu himself has conveyed.
Following the interview, popular Israeli model and actress Rotem Sela took to Instagram to harshly criticize Regev for suggesting that the nation's Arab citizens are some kind of fifth column.
"Oh my God, there are Arab citizens in this country," wrote Sela, adding, "When will someone in this government broadcast to the public that Israel is a country for all its citizens, and that every person was born equal? Arabs, too, God help us, are human beings. And so are the Druze. And so are gays, by the way, and lesbians, and…shock…leftists."
Netanyahu almost immediately fired back on his own Instagram account, reminding Sela that his government recently passed a bill explicitly defining Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, albeit also a safe haven for the minorities that live here.
"Rotem, my dear," wrote Netanyahu, "Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the bill we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people alone. As you wrote, there's no problem with our Arab citizens. They enjoy the same equal rights that we all do, and the Likud government invested in the Arab sector more than any government before it."
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רותם היקרה, תיקון חשוב: ישראל היא לא מדינת כלל אזרחיה. לפי חוק יסוד הלאום שהעברנו, ישראל היא מדינת הלאום של העם היהודי – ושלו בלבד. כמו שכתבת, אין שום בעיה עם אזרחי ישראל הערבים – הם שווי זכויות ככולנו וממשלת הליכוד השקיעה במגזר הערבי יותר מכל ממשלה אחרת. הליכוד רק ביקש לחדד את השאלה המרכזית בבחירות האלה: זו ממשלת ימין חזקה בראשותי או ממשלת שמאל של יאיר לפיד וגנץ בתמיכת המפלגות הערביות. ללפיד וגנץ אין דרך אחרת להקים ממשלה וממשלה כזאת תערער את ביטחון המדינה והאזרחים. ההכרעה – עוד חודש בקלפי. יום טוב. @rotemsela1
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