Risky move: #AskNetanyahu quickly backfires for Israeli PM
In what could at best be described as a risky PR move, and at worst just asking for trouble, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened himself up to the world of Twitter with an “Ask Netanyahu” social media campaign, yielding predictably funny results.
Within minutes of the announcement, people made use of the hashtag to question the Israeli leader about pressing issues.
The Q&A session was set to take place Thursday morning to honor Israeli Independence Day.
Why did Israeli soldiers, in their own words, "shoot at random civilian targets, just for fun", during the 2014 Gaza war? #AskNetanyahu— Daniel Wickham (@DanielWickham93) May 10, 2016
Questions ranged from being of a mildly amusing tone to scathing truths about Israel’s illegal activity. There were artworks, gifs, memes and disturbing images of dead Palestinian children. Surely not what Bibi had in mind.
Many of the tweets asked how Netanyahu feels about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
#AskNetanyahu how do you live with yourself after ordering the mass killing of innocents?U do realise there's a God watching you don't you?— #FreePalestine (@xDimpleZ) May 11, 2016
Some people were curious about Netanyahu’s political career and his decisions made as prime minister.
Other than Pik Botha, which other tyrants are your greatest political influence?#AskNetanyahu— Steve Hall (@PikeyPix) May 11, 2016
#AskNetanyahu: Can you disagree you use NATO to spread your shit all over Europe and Middle East? If yes why? If no why?— Kakoli Bandyopadhyay (@Kakolimrinalini) May 11, 2016
How many Palestinian kids did it take you to kill to win the Israeli votes? #Asknetanyahu— أحمد الشياح (@alshyyah) May 11, 2016
One wondered why someone who called for genocide had been appointed his justice minister, referring to statements made by Ayelet Shaked.
Why can Israel have a wall but white countries cannot?— Cucker Punch (@CuckerPunch) May 11, 2016
#AskNetanyahu Why 20 yrs prison for pelting stones on Israeli armoured vehicles and just 3 months for killing a Palestinian baby?— Salman Malik (@MalikMdSalman) May 11, 2016
Others asked what it is that makes Israel a “beacon of democracy”, wondering whether the “public executions of children” might factor in.
Another user pondered the people of Israel.
While some of the questions could be construed as “trolling” many appeared to be genuinely curious about Netanyahu’s decisions.
#AskNetanyahu Why do you continue to build houses on occupied land when it is against UN resolutions and a barrier for peace?— Kim Benny Larsen (@kimbennylarsen) May 11, 2016
#AskNetanyahu Why is Israel banning the entry of 70% of items necessary for maintaining & rebuilding Gaza's crumbling water & sewage system?— Elizabeth Tsurkov (@Elizrael) May 10, 2016
Someone pointed out the example of a Holocaust survivor, who is known to support the people of Gaza, asking Netanyahu why this was.
Others focused on the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, a global grassroots movement which Israel enthusiastically fights worldwide.
Some were just funny.
In 3 emojis or less, how would you describe your illegal siege on Gaza? #AskNetanyahu— Kareem Chehayeb (@chehayebk) May 10, 2016
One tweeter reminded the prime minister of his infamous drawings of a bomb to illustrate Iran’s nuclear threat.
Some called for a more productive chat.
BiBi the greatest power goes before you YESHUA!! Keep going!!🇮🇱 #AskNetanyahu— Carolyn schenkel (@Slaveofyah) May 11, 2016
While still unclear how the responsible PR team had not considered the very likely risk that the Q&A might not go to plan, it is hard to imagine that the risk of such trolling wouldn’t come up.
With a growing BDS movement, combined with the disproportionate responses to it by Israeli leaders, offering the world such an easy punch seems nonsensical.
Why did you say that Israel doesn't arrest journalists when it's currently holding 10 Palestinian journalists in detention? #AskNetanyahu— Natasha Roth (@NatashaRoth01) May 10, 2016
Unless it was a way for Israel’s $26 million cyber fighting team to weed out those who wish to speak out about Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Some people are already predicting accusations of anti-Semitism.