newsIsrael at War

Anti-Netanyahu groups dominate Israeli ad list on Facebook, Instagram

Over the last 90 days, eight of the top 20 Israeli advertisers on Meta (Facebook and Instagram) were working to bring down the prime minister.

Anti-Netanyahu protesters outside the Jerusalem District Court where the Israeli prime minister's trial is being held, April 25, 2021. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.
Anti-Netanyahu protesters outside the Jerusalem District Court where the Israeli prime minister's trial is being held, April 25, 2021. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90.

Groups aspiring to bring down Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have ramped up their campaigns, pouring more than 2.2 million shekels (~$600,000) into ads on Meta (Facebook, Instagram) alone over the past three months.

Of the top 20 Israeli advertisers on Meta since Nov. 13, eight were anti-Netanyahu organizations, Army Radio political correspondent Shahar Glick found, based on numbers from Meta’s ad library report.

Six of the eight appear to have been created after Oct. 7, several of them bearing nearly identical names such as “We were abandoned,” “Government of abandonment” and simply, “Abandonment.”

As their names suggest, a major theme of the campaigns is the ways in which Netanyahu and his government allegedly failed in their duty to protect the Israeli people.

While there is overlap, the groups appear to have divided up the anti-Netanyahu workload, focusing on different angles of attack. One group, for instance, calling itself “You Lost the North,” a word play on a Hebrew idiom meaning “You’ve lost your way,” focuses on the security problems in that part of the country.

One ad from the group directed at Netanyahu says, “Dozens of [Hezbollah] launches every day. Anti-tank missiles. Drones. 100,000 evacuees without homes. 14 years you’re afraid of Hezbollah. You lost the north.”

Another organization, “Quit Now,” claims that Netanyahu is more concerned with saving his political skin than in addressing security, referring in one ad to a tweet the prime minister posted on Oct. 29 in which he distanced himself from the Oct. 7 massacre, saying neither the IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate nor the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, had warned him of Hamas’s war aims.

The ad asserted that Netanyahu’s tweet led the IDF chief of staff and the head of the Shin Bet, only minutes away from giving the order to the army to attack Gaza, to delay doing so.

At least two of the organizations listed on Meta’s ad library report existed before the Hamas invasion—the Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG), a left-wing NGO that mainly works through the court system, and the much newer Free in Our Land—Headquarters of the Struggle. Both were active in opposing Netanyahu’s judicial reform push.

The amount of money spent by these groups has increased since Glick checked two days ago. On Tuesday, a group calling itself “Kippur Fighters 73” was recorded as having spent a total of 732,458 shekels ($200,631) over the past three months, up from 658,480 shekels ($180,367) on Sunday. That moved it to the top spot on the advertising list.

Technology news site Speed Digital reported that such sums have never before been seen in Israel in campaigns of this type.

“Apparently there is a chance that the funding for the group comes from foreign countries in order to influence public opinion in Israel,” the site said, though it offered no concrete evidence.

Kippur Fighters 73 is responsible for the sharpest of the campaigns, explicitly blaming Netanyahu for the Oct. 7 massacre.

The campaign, which began at the end of January, goes under the slogan “You’re the leader. You’re guilty.” Its ads have appeared on Israeli TV and boast a strong presence on social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and X.

In one 30-second ad, Netanyahu is held responsible for bringing about the Oct. 7 massacre by failing to keep earlier promises to topple Hamas, releasing the terrorist group’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, in the 2011 prisoner exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, and allowing Qatar to supply cash to Hamas in Gaza.

“For 14 years, you built Hamas,” the ad says.

Netanyahu’s team reportedly sent warning letters earlier this month to Israel’s major news channels demanding they refrain from airing the campaign, asserting it “incites to violence.”

However, enormous, building-size billboards bearing the “You’re guilty” slogan have popped up throughout Israel, competing with unity messages in the aftermath of the Hamas attack.

Post-Oct. 7, Israelis expressed the hope that greater social cohesion would follow after a tumultuous period that saw a rift over the government’s judicial reform plan.

Initially, this was the case. “Together we will win” became the wartime slogan. Those words are still projected onto buildings and written on banners and billboards at transportation hubs and other public places.

Another campaign, “No right, no left,” an independent effort of an Israeli advertising company, also sought to project a unifying message.

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