Zionist Union’s campaign has been, to put it bluntly, a mess. This week, however, the cavalry arrived in the form of advertising guru Reuven Adler.
Weeks after Labor and Hatnua united and jumped to the top of the polls with the joint list riding high after the Labor primary boosted younger and female candidates, the campaign seemed directionless and running adrift.
In an election season characterized by online videos, Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog said he was not producing funny clips because he takes Israel’s problems seriously, and so the party lagged far behind in the number of its clips “going viral.”
None of the campaign’s slogans took off with the exception of “It’s us or him,” which Likud adopted in reverse, and its promises – free land for housing, eradicating hunger among the elderly within a year, and adding a third preschool aide when most don’t even have two – seemed too good to be true.
Meanwhile, news of party infighting leaked over and over, from Zionist Union’s more left-wing MKs arguing with its candidate for finance minister, Manuel Trajtenberg, about economic policies, to the party itself quarreling over who is in charge of the campaign and then firing local coordinators.
So, when the news came Saturday night that Adler was joining the operation, it came as no surprise; the party needed to streamline its message and turn it into a well-oiled, vote-attracting machine and the advertiser known for championing the slogan “Anyone but Bibi” seemed just the man for the job.
Less than a week later, it’s too early to know for sure if Adler will bring the “revolution” Herzog keeps promising, but the party’s new campaign slogan, “Bibi, you failed, go home,” seems to be catching on.
Zionist Union is also putting its younger faces at the fore, disseminating a video in which MK Stav Shaffir calmly laments (and specifies the amounts of) the public funding that went toward pork-barrel legislation.
Instead of her usual grandstanding during which she lays the blame on Bayit Yehudi settlers, she explained that the problem, in fact, lies within the system itself.
Meanwhile, the Zionist Union Youth Division mocked the video of Sara Netanyahu with an interior decorator complaining about conditions in the prime minister’s residence by filming activists panhandling for the “poor Netanyahu family.”
They held faux protests against former prime minister’s residence superintendent Meni Naftali, responding to the Likud blaming him for the recent State Comptroller’s report about spending there.
But don’t expect the party to jump on Netanyahu’s misfortune too much.
“The numbers are so strong they speak for themselves. We would block the message,” campaign chairman MK Eitan Cabel explained. “If politicians deal with it too much, it makes noise... why should we spoil the comptroller’s work?” Cabel wondered if perhaps it is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who prefers that public attention be focused on his house and spending habits so he can avoid the issues, while Cabel’s party wants to talk about poverty, the housing crisis and the results of Operation Protective Edge, not Sara Netanyahu.
“As long as he doesn’t have to deal with real, existential questions, he’s comfortable, even if things are a bit awkward,” Cabel posited, even though in one of the Likud campaign’s more viral videos, Netanyahu complained that his rivals are the ones distracting from the real issues by focusing on the scandal of the day.
Meanwhile, with Adler and Cabel behind the wheel, the party is “in a better place,” Cabel claimed, noting that Adler has brought stability to the operation.
“We have great people in the campaign, we just needed a professional authority that knows how to make decisions, speak clearly and follow through with them, and that’s who [Adler] is, first and foremost,” Cabel stated. “We already feel calmer, but with a lot of energy. We have our confidence back.”
That confidence seems to be reflected in Friday’s Jerusalem Post
poll, which puts the Zionist Union two seats ahead of the Likud, after trailing one seat last week, but the question is, if unlike in the beginning of the campaign, the party can maintain its frontrunner position.