Netanyahu denounces Israeli TV channels as 'propaganda' brainwashing public ahead of elections

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has attacked the country’s largest news channels as “propaganda,” claiming they are conspiring to “brainwash” the public into deposing him on Election Day as he braces for a possible indictment.

Channels 12 and 13 will try to brainwash you every night with unending false and distorted leaks” from the ongoing criminal probes that have dogged his reelection campaign, Netanyahu warned in a tweet in Hebrew, warning that “Leaks from investigations are a criminal offense with a maximum three-year sentence!

Even while dismissing Channel 13 as propaganda, Netanyahu sent his associates to the station to accuse State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan of “subverting democracy” by pushing Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to indict the PM on bribery charges before the election. Nitzan, they said, wanted to “be remembered” for taking down their boss – but then, Israeli police and the entirety of the Israeli media have also been accused of pushing for Netanyahu’s indictment “at any cost,” so Nitzan is competing in a crowded field.

Netanyahu’s lawyers demanded Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit investigate leaks from the probes, which they claim are splashing “new and sensational revelations” across the headlines on a daily basis. With elections just three months away, Netanyahu is apparently worried he may be indicted on bribery charges as early as next month and has set out on a coordinated smear campaign against enemies real and imagined.

The PM has denounced all who oppose him as part of a vast “left-wing conspiracy” with near-daily videos and tweets decrying the unjust persecution. His public communications have focused on little else since the election was moved up eight months in December after his Likud Party lost the support of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party. Even a “dramatic” press announcement he scheduled earlier this month turned into little more than a long-winded denunciation of the bribery probes, leading some media outlets to pack up and leave in the middle of his speech. 




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Chief among Netanyahu’s enemies, though, are the media, each and every one of whom are said to be determined to “steal” the April 9 contest in a “thuggish” and “inhumane” campaign to secure an indictment. Ironically, one of the bribery charges Netanyahu faces alleges that he paid newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth with regulatory favors in exchange for friendly coverage. The belligerent leader has also financed the erection of billboards at busy intersections denouncing “enemy” journalists.

While Netanyahu has already confirmed he will not step down if indicted, Israeli police recommended charges in all three of the bribery probes last month, and Mandelblit has said he is workingas quickly as possible” to make his findings public. 

Netanyahu has so far tiptoed around explicitly accusing Mandelblit of political bias, but earlier this week he railed against the AG for giving a TV interview to Channel 12 in which unnamed legal associates suggest Mandelblit plans to indict on at least one of the bribery cases.




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Netanyahu’s fellow Likudniks have showed no restraint, denouncing the investigation as – what else? – a “witch hunt.” 

Though most of Israel’s political parties are to the left of Netanyahu’s hardline Likud party, dark horse former IDF commander Benny Gantz has made some headway with campaign spots openly boasting of killing Palestinian civilians during Operation Protective Edge and is currently polling just 11 points behind Netanyahu. Tamar Zandberg, head of the left-wing Meretz party, is also concerned about the media meddling in the upcoming elections – though she thinks it’s Netanyahu who stands to benefit.

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