Kafe Knesset — While the Prime Minister was questioned for the 3rd time, about 1500 Likud activists gathered in the southern city of Eilat for the 2nd Likudiada weekend, an annual celebration of the ruling party including speeches by ministers and MKs, stand up performances, music and partying, and lots of food. The highlight of the event is a mock primary vote, in which old and new figures compete over prestige and popularity, including some interesting outsider candidates, such as the heir, Yair Netanyahu, whose name was supposedly added without his consent but still managed to top the conversation.
The whole event was designed as a demonstration of support for Netanyahu and his family, including a huge sign with the well-known slogan “there will be nothing because there is nothing,” and special positions in which Likudniks could pose with a picture of the PM and Mrs. Netanyahu and print it on a magnet. Netanyahu himself sent a special message of gratitude, which was read out just minutes after the police investigators left his home in Jerusalem. “The Likudiada is an example of how the Likud is a leading and vibrant party, which belongs to the people,” Netanyahu wrote in a letter which was read out before a special pool party dedicated to him. “Your strong support warms our hearts and is especially important in the wake of the never-ending campaign which wishes to influence the law enforcement bodies and the attorney general to indict us. Our answer is clear: a leader is replaced on the ballot and not in legal campaigns. I know that you, like a majority of the Israeli public, do not buy into this attack against me.”
One of the scandals surrounding the Likudiada this year was the timing – which coincidentally fell on the International Holocaust Memorial Day – and sparked much criticism from Holocaust survivors and opposition leaders. Yair Lapid posted a picture of Likud founder Menachem Begin, asking: “Would Begin, who lost his parents and siblings in the Holocaust, agree to have the Likudiada in Eilat on International Holocaust Memorial Day?”
The organizers said it was done unintentionally, but they made a point of opening the day with a special moment of silence and had memorial candles lit in the entrance to the main hall. However, the Likud activists were furious about the attack, claiming this is just another demonstration of how the media is out to get them. Culture Minister Miri Regev, one of Netanyahu’s close confidants and one of the stars of the Likudiada, said: “I’m proud of the Likudiada because never before has International Holocaust Memorial Day been covered so much as it was this year because of the Likudiada. They are only attacking us because we are the Likud. They will not bring us down.”
Spotted: Ministers Haim Katz, Yuval Steinitz, Gila Gamliel, Ayoob Kara, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Likud MKs: Yoav Kish, Anat Berko, Sharen Haskel, Amir Ohana and more. Also testing the waters was Gilad Sharon, son of former PM Ariel Sharon, who is hoping to be elected to the party in the next primary elections.