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Netanyahu courts Arab voters as 'Abu Yair'

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has adopted a new strategy for the Arab public: cynically rebranding himself as "Abu Yair."

Any foreigner arriving in Israel before the upcoming March 23 election and spending time in the country’s Arab towns and villages would be stunned by all the love being showered on the local residents by a candidate known as Abu Yair. They might think that he's running with one of the Arab parties, but Hebrew letters spelling out “MaHaL” on the campaign posters mean the Likud party, as he is none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu! (Abu Yair, of course, means, “father of Yair,” a reference to Netanyahu’s eldest son.)

“We’re all with you, Abu Yair!” blare the Arabic-language signs plastered in towns like Rahat and Shfaram. Cars covered with the slogan have been making the rounds in Arab towns and villages. The is a new Arabic-language Facebook page, created in early February, and an Arabic-language jingle (sung by a Jewish artist, for anyone wondering). There are also frequent meetings with Arab leaders and incessant visits to Arab towns and villages by Netanyahu and his retinue as they pitch what they present as a new candidate to Arab voters.

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