Risky move: #AskNetanyahu quickly backfires for Israeli PM

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C), President Reuven Rivlin (R) and President of the Supreme Court Miriam Naor, attend a Memorial Day ceremony at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem May 11, 2016. © Heidi Levine
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.

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.

Some people were curious about Netanyahu’s political career and his decisions made as prime minister.

One wondered why someone who called for genocide had been appointed his justice minister, referring to statements made by Ayelet Shaked.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Read more: ‘Don’t demonize Israel’: Canada passes anti-boycott motion

Some people are already predicting accusations of anti-Semitism.