Is Liberman’s campaign to Russian-speaking voters arousing anti-Semitism in Israel?

The messaging from the party’s politicians in Russian is much more violent and hateful than their Hebrew language campaign, says online group.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israelis with a Russian background are warning the wider Israeli public that Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu party is engaging in hateful rhetoric against Orthodox Jews when targeting Russian-speaking voters that frankly borders on anti-Semitism, Makor Rishon reported on Friday.

Natalia Rothenberg established her “Danger from our Home” website, a play on the name of Liberman’s party “This is Our Home,” in order to educate the Hebrew-speaking public about what the party, which draws its main support from Russian immigrants, is saying in Russian.

She is joined by veteran Russian immigrants who sift through the party’s official Facebook page to translate what they call its “poisonous” messaging. The examples they give could easily come straight out of a primer on anti-Semitism.

In one campaign video, Aryeh Deri, chairman of the Orthodox Shas party, dances under a shower of dollars while a narrator warns, “They want to help him [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] but we’ll all pay the price, from our pockets.”

In another post, Israel Beiteinu accuses the ultra-Orthodox parties of registering dead voters to inflate their numbers in the Knesset.

On her official Facebook page, Israel Beiteinu MK Yulia Malinovsky wrote that the haredim (or “ultra-Orthodox”) are “dangerous” because they spread diseases and don’t vaccinate their children.

The reactions on social media to these posts are even more worrisome, according to Rothenberg.

“Israel Beiteinu’s campaign is arousing dormant anti-Semitism that exists here in Israel,” the secular former refusenik said. “When they say that ‘the hareidim are parasites’ and are ‘destroying society,’ the direct result is horrific anti-Semitic reactions online against the ultra-Orthodox and the religious public.”

Just a few of the names that the ultra-Orthodox sector are being called in these talkbacks are “pedophiles,” “scum,” “a cancer on society” and “cockroaches.” There is outright incitement to violence according to the translators.

Haredim should be “beaten,” “choked,” “thrown out of Israel.” One even wrote, “We should have carried out pogroms against the haredim a long time ago. We have to silence them, otherwise they’ll soon force us to keep their ceremonies. Sign me up for a pogrom.”

Rothenberg’s group says it fears that the incitement may move from words to action, the paper reports.

They hold Liberman responsible.

“In Israel Beiteinu, everything comes from the top,” explained Ilya Levin, a former Israel Beiteinu activist. “In this party, nothing moves without Liberman’s authorization, so he understands everything. Even party representatives in local authorities don’t move without approval from on high.”

Rothenberg agreed, saying, “I think Liberman knows exactly what he’s doing and what he is awakening.”