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Middle East

Netanyahu’s ‘Bibi-Sitter’ Ad Draws Praise From U.S. Conservatives

FEB. 6, 2015

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    By ROBERT MACKEY

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    As campaigning intensifies ahead of elections next month in Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making his case to stay in office by playing the role of the nation’s babysitter in chief in an online comedy sketch posted on Facebook and YouTube.

    The ad, which features the prime minister appearing at a couple’s home and offering to watch their children when they go out, plays on Mr. Netanyahu’s nickname, Bibi. “You ordered a babysitter? You got a Bibi-sitter,” he explains to the puzzled couple when they open their door at the start of the sketch.

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    Benjamin Netanyahu stars in an election-themed comedy sketch released by his campaign. Stephen Taylor, via YouTube

    Underscoring the message that his main role is to keep the children of Israel safe, Mr. Netanyahu tells the couple that their choice of babysitter is between him or the leader of a new center-left bloc, Tzipi Livni, the former foreign minister who led negotiations with the Palestinians, or Isaac Herzog, the leader of the Israeli Labor Party, who is nicknamed Buji.

    Among Israelis, opinions about the ad were divided along predictable lines. Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters laughed at the criticism of his rivals and the closing punch-line, which plays on the fact that the Hebrew greeting “Shalom” literally means “peace.” When the couple return at the end of their night out and say “Shalom” to their babysitter, he replies, “But not at any price.”

    Some of the prime minister’s critics, like the blogger and analyst Dimi Reider, suggested that there was something unsettling about the focus on protecting children, given that hundreds of young Palestinians were killed in last summer’s Gaza offensive — including four boys fatally wounded by Israeli shelling as they played soccer on a beach.

    Continue reading the main story Post by Dimi Reider.

    Once a version of the ad with English subtitles was posted online, it was warmly received by conservative political activists, bloggers and pundits in other countries — particularly in the United States, where Mr. Netanyahu recently accepted an invitation from the Republican leadership to address Congress just two weeks before the election back home.

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    This election offers an important contrast of left v right. English subtitled version of my latest ad "Babysitter" https://t.co/TioIEqQMyj

    — בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) Feb. 1, 2015
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    “@ajcdeane: A Bibisitter. Brilliant election ad from Likud and Netanyahu https://t.co/oIlNpSWDJp be sure to watch to the end.” LOVE IT! BEST

    — Security Strength (@StrengthSecure) Feb. 2, 2015
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    Clever! Netanyahu's #Bibisitter campaign add - hilarious!! http://t.co/OCfyOfUN2a

    — Bridgett Wagner (@bridgettwagner) Feb. 3, 2015
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    whoever said #Bibi @netanyahu doesn't have sense of humor? Watch the #Bibisitter campaign add - it's hilarious!! http://t.co/Gm2kH4iXj5

    — KT McFarland (@ktmcfarland) Feb. 2, 2015
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    Hilarious Benjamin Netanyahu Election Campaign Advertisement http://t.co/gGpgh71xkL

    — Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) Feb. 5, 2015
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    Bibi Sitter: Benjamin Netanyahu’s new campaign commercial. Very funny: http://t.co/fLk3dikmFk

    — National Review (@NROcorner) Feb. 5, 2015
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    PHENOMENAL!! Masterful marketing. #timely #pertinent #benjaminnetanyahu babysitter ad: http://t.co/gFPSOpZm1a

    — Teri Spears (@_terispears) Feb. 5, 2015
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    WATCH PM #Netanyahu's hilarious campaign ad! Do you think US politicians could learn something from this ad? http://t.co/zkikowhLZ3 RT #GOP

    — Cindy Alvey USA (@cgowlvUSA) Feb. 5, 2015

    Loud complaints from the White House about the invitation to Mr. Netanyahu, who is expected to rally opposition to President Obama’s nuclear negotiations with Iran in the address, have reportedly caused even Israeli diplomats in the United States to warn that the prime minister risked identifying too closely with Mr. Obama’s political opponents.

    According to the Tel Aviv daily Haaretz, Israel’s consul general in Philadelphia, Yaron Sideman, wrote in a cable this week that among conservative activists in the United States, “support for the speech stems from their identification with, and admiration for, a move to defy and humiliate President Obama, more than from the importance they attribute to the Iranian issue.”

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    Thousands of you have contacted Congress & Consulates about the Netanyahu speech. One Consul's report to Jlem: pic.twitter.com/hKUhZjewFC

    — J Street (@jstreetdotorg) Feb. 6, 2015

    Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, countered accusations from Democrats that the speech was timed to boost Mr. Netanyahu’s re-election chances by accusing the administration of trying to unseat Israel’s prime minister.

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    Americans deserve to know whether their President is working to remove @Netanyahu from office http://t.co/u0kw6BxuU4 pic.twitter.com/2u6xkvRJnv

    — Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) Jan. 30, 2015

    Earlier in the campaign Mr. Netanyahu appeared in a similar role, playing the part of a kindergarten teacher in another online ad that pictured his political rivals as reckless children.

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    An Israeli campaign ad starring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Haaretz, via YouTube

    That ad was subsequently banned by Israeli election officials for violating a rule against using children in political advertising, but a few seconds of it were embedded in the new commercial. As he waits for the parents to come home, Mr. Netanyahu is pictured eating popcorn and laughing at a shot from the banned ad in which Ms. Livni is portrayed as a little girl wielding a toy hammer emblazoned with the Israeli flag.

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