Amid the pounding music, steaming trays of customary treats and shimmering holiday dresses, the crowd started whispering at a Mimouna celebration in the northern city of Or Akiva on Saturday night.
“He’s here,” people murmured, looking side-to-side to steal a glance at the big arrival to the traditional Moroccan celebration marking the end of the Passover holiday.
Former prime minister and current opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu strode into the home’s living room, where an ample dinner spread was waiting. He was accompanied by his wife, Sara, and a chant from the hundred-odd guests.
“Long live Bibi, King of Israel,” the crowd intoned, replacing the biblical leader David with Netanyahu’s nickname in a common religious chant.
From the place of honor in the center of a broad table, Netanyahu took to the microphone to tell the crowd that he would be back in power soon. Family members and friends of the dinner’s hosts, as well as activists from Netanyahu’s Likud party, angled to see and snap pictures.
“This year’s holiday has a new flavor, the flavor of hope, a lot of hope,” Netanyahu said.
“I meet a lot of citizens who are full of hope, who are hoping and believing that we’ll bring the Israeli government back on the right track, the secure track, the track that will promise security and attainment for all of Israel’s citizens,” Netanyahu said.