Had someone with no knowledge of Israel watched the 75 minutes of election commercials broadcast Tuesday night, they would think Israel is a poor country with suffering elderly people and a prime minister whose every word gets applauded.
He would also say we have way too many political parties.
American candidates spend most of the money they fund-raise buying air-time for television commercials. Here candidates are saved the trouble because the state funds the advertisements and provides the air time.
But it is tougher to persuade voters in commercials that run in a bloc with ads from 33 other parties. In a bloc of time that long, the ads have to strike a chord or use a successful gimmick to be truly memorable.
In the spirit of the Oscars and Razzies given to the best and worst movies in Hollywood, the following positive and negative awards can be given to the election ads that stood out.
Best gimmick: Far right Strong Israel MKs Arye Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari speaking Arabic. It doesn't matter how many takes it took to film the commercial. They clearly made an effort and their message about the need for Arabs citizens to share in the burdens of Israeli society will undoubtedly be remembered.
Worst contradiction: Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said in one ad that she left class as a child because her teacher said a woman's role was to iron, clean, and cook. But in another ad, she showed how she cooks in large quantities and freezes labeled Tupperware containers.
Most repetitive: Likud-Beytenu's ads. The joint list that has 42 MKs is swimming in state funding and had an excess of air time at its disposal. Instead of running cute animated ads making fun of the leaders of the Center-Left that have been posted on Youtube, Likud-Beytenu ran boilerplate scenes of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Western Wall and getting applauded by Congress.
Thankfully Missing-in-Action: Gilad Schalit. Likud-Beytenu made a proper decision to avoid mentioning Netanyahu's deal to bring home the kidnapped soldier in the list of the accomplishments of the two parties.
Also MIA: Interior Minister Eli Yishai. His rival in the Shas leadership triumvirate Arye Deri had room in the party's commercials for his own mother but not for the man who has led Shas for the past 13 years.
Best humor: Bayit Yehudi for mocking the other ads (especially Likud's) by showing wheat fields and a dove and then cutting to candidates Ayelet Shaked and Uri Orbach saying they would not resort to the boilerplate scenes that have become standard in such commercials.
Second-best humor: The Green Party's ad that showed a scantily-clad woman sunbathing on a beach surrounded by garbage. It was not intended to be funny, but it was and it hit home.
Least deserved slam: Kadima MK Ronnie Bar-On's attack on the inexperience of Labor candidate Hilik Bar. The Labor secretary-general indeed never led a country to war. But he kept a dying party together and played an impressive role in its renaissance while Mofaz was leading his party to oblivion.
Most powerful: The Dor Pensioners Party commercial that showed an elderly man forced to choose between food and medicine.
Most disappointing: Yesh Atid. The party has only seven minutes of advertising for the entire two weeks. Why waste it on showing a long clip of Lapid mocking Netanyahu's Iran bomb caricature? And why run that ad twice? A veteran television personality like Lapid should have known better.
Second-most disappointing: The Pirate Party. The ad explained how the party wants its prospective MKs to decide how to vote by taking online polls. That's nice, but shouldn't a pirate party's ads be funny? Its radio ad featured a long, awkward clip that sounded like a drifting ship.
Biggest cliff-hanger: Eretz Chadasha revealed that Netanyahu held secret talks with Yehuda Weinstein before appointing him attorney-general. But its ads did not flesh out what happened and kept on saying that the ads were to be continued.
Most absurd: Tie between the Moreshet Avot party, whose leader Ilan Mashiha said he was running for prime minister, and Brit Olam leader Ya'acov Lifschitz, who said he was sent by God to run for Knesset.