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Deri’s mom, God’s messenger and Likud’s ‘96 slogan
By LAHAV HARKOV
09/01/2013
Television election ad campaigns debut with baby pictures, aid to the elderly as major trends; Balad, Strong Israel censored by Central Election Committee.
 
The Likud Beytenu joint list recycled a winning strategy from 1996 in Tuesday night’s “Election Propaganda Broadcast,” as Labor stayed positive and Shas co-leader Arye Deri brought in a supporting player – his mother.

Televisions in homes around the country played the concentrated election commercial broadcast at 6 p.m. on Channel 10, followed by Channel 1 at 10 p.m. and Channel 2 at 11:15 p.m. They will continue on Sundays through Thursdays until January 21. Likud and Labor held viewing parties at their campaigns’ headquarters in Tel Aviv with Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar and Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich, respectively, when the ads were first played.

The broadcast was kicked off with an attack ad by the Am Shalem party, led by renegade Shas MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem, who said his former party was “silencing” Israelis – who were portrayed with their mouths duct-taped shut.

Likud Beytenu’s commercials focused almost exclusively on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, though they repeated several times that he and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman are a strong team to lead Israel. One commercial shows the last government’s accomplishments, such as the southern border fence and free education from age three. Another shows the prime minister in front of a map in his office, discussing regional threats and what he has done to fight them.

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The party also recycled a slogan that helped Netanyahu win his first term as prime minister in the 1996 election. At the time, Netanyahu’s ads warned that “[Shimon] Peres will split Jerusalem.” In 2013, Likud Beytenu says “[Tzipi] Livni is willing to split Jerusalem.”

Likud Beytenu’s clips also heavily featured English-language speeches by Netanyahu to the US Congress and the UN, including his drawing a red line on a cartoon of a bomb to indicate the Iranian nuclear threat, with uplifting music in the background.

Yesh Atid’s ads also featured a bomb cartoon, and consisted of party leader Yair Lapid’s speech from last December, in which he said taxes on the middle class are crossing a red line.

Labor’s ads stuck with positive messages, first with a biography of Yacimovich that included her saying she became a feminist in eighth grade, when she boycotted a home economics class where a teacher said a woman’s job is to cook and clean and raise children.

Immediately after that, Yacimovich talked about how much she loves her kids and was filmed cooking in her kitchen.

The ad also featured what seems to be a trend in this year’s campaign commercials – candidates’ baby pictures.

Meretz’s Zehava Gal-On and Kadima’s Shaul Mofaz also spiced up their life stories with photographs of themselves as children.

Another Labor ad focused on the 2011 social protests, with candidates Itzik Shmuli and Stav Shaffir discussing their experiences in leading the demonstrations and calling for the effort to be brought to the voting booth.

Kadima’s ads featured former prime minister Ehud Olmert testifying to Mofaz’s greatness, as well as extensive quotes from respected columnists saying the same. Kadima MK Ronnie Bar- On, who retired from politics, also starred in a commercial, mocking the inexperienced unknowns in other parties.

Livni’s ads were almost all negative, saying that Netanyahu and Liberman are endangering the country, while Livni will bring hope. One ad begins with a blue screen and Netanyahu speaking about talks with the Palestinians. As the prime minister’s voice is heard, “Hatikva” plays and the screen becomes black. The message “Why does it feel so black?” appears. Then, the blackness slowly disappears as Livni talks about hope. The screen clears, and photos appear of Livni hugging and kissing people.

A second commercial had a similar theme, contrasting Netanyahu and Liberman talking tough about Hamas, with Hamas leaders celebrating victory.

“Bibi [Netanyahu] and Liberman – Fear,” the ad reads.

Then, Livni speaks about a Jewish and democratic state, while Israeli flags wave in the background, and the screen says she will bring hope to Israel.

Bayit Yehudi’s ads were mostly humorous, and tried to keep with their slogan – “Something new is beginning” – by crowd-sourcing content online. The party’s first ad featured MK Uri Orbach, a former journalist and humorist, and candidate Ayelet Shaked saying they will not have special effects and gimmicks.

The two Bayit Yehudi candidates pointedly mocked popular singer Sarit Hadad’s serenade of the prime minister with her song “You’re the Bomb” at a Likud Beytenu campaign event, with Shaked asking Orbach, “Are you the bomb?”

The Bayit Yehudi ads also used statuses and images posted on the party’s Facebook page, including a series of memes from a popular Facebook page called “Naftali Bennett: The Unofficial Page,” which has 15,880 “likes” and jokes that the Bayit Yehudi leader is capable of impossible feats. Some memes featured in the party’s commercials include “Builds in Jerusalem, [US President Barack] Obama comes to the housewarming” and “Sings ‘Hatikva,’ [United Arab Lost-Ta’al MK] Ahmed Tibi stands and joins in.”

A spokeswoman then denied that Bayit Yehudi is behind the unofficial Bennett fan page, but says the party “likes it a lot.”

Shas focused most of their advertisements on welfare, with Deri appearing in many of them while co-leaders Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias were glaringly absent.

The Sephardi haredi party’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef warned voters that only Shas can block the next government from making cruel budget cuts, while Deri’s mother made an appearance in one of several clips, silently sitting next to her son as he said Shas will help the elderly.

“Poverty does not have a color. It does not have a religion or a kippa,” Deri stated, promising to give more welfare to the needy.

United Torah Judaism also focused on the elderly, with a short cartoon clip of a hunched old man and a voiceover saying that the party takes care of the needy better than all others.

Dor, the new pensioners’ party, went with the same theme, showing an elderly man who had to choose between food and medication, as he could not afford both.

An ad for the new party “World Covenant for the Liberation of Israel” was particularly memorable, as party leader Ofer Lifshitz said that nine years ago God Himself told him to liberate Israel from the persecution of its government.

Another interesting advertisement was that of the Greens, which starred a bikini-clad woman on a condom-polluted beach.

The Pirate Party’s commercial did not have any pirates in it, but featured the voice of legendary Israel Broadcasting Authority reporter Sari Raz explaining that the party plans to hold regular Internet referendums in which the public can decide what its MKs do.

Those watching the concentrated election commercial broadcasts on Tuesday night didn’t see what all the parties had intended they see, after the Central Election Committee disqualified ads by two parties.

The first commercial, by Balad, featured a belly-dancing, googly- eyed cartoon of Liberman singing a version of “Hatikva” with a Middle Eastern musical twist.



Central Election Committee chairman Judge Elyakim Rubinstein banned the ad from being played in what is officially known as the “Election Propaganda Broadcasts,” because “disgracing symbols of the country, the Jewish democratic state, is not acceptable as part of any list’s election campaign.”

Balad leader Jamal Zahalka responded that the decision is undemocratic and goes against freedom of expression.

Later on Tuesday, Rubinstein said he would reconsider his decision, but in the meantime, the party went with a clip featuring Zahalka in a school, promising better education funds for Israeli Arab schools.

Some of his talking points were illustrated by Playmobil dolls.

Rubinstein also asked Strong Israel to remove parts of its commercial. The ad begins with a message that many Israeli Arabs do not pay their share of taxes and a jingle calling for “hawks in the voting booth and hawks in the Knesset.”



The clip then shows the party’s leader, MK Michael Ben-Ari, offering tea and saying “fadel” (“please” in Arabic) to Strong Israel’s other leader, Arieh Eldad, who accepts and says “shukran” (“thank you” in Arabic). The two continue to have a conversation in Arabic with Hebrew subtitles, essentially saying that all citizens must fulfill their obligations to society before receiving benefits.

The Central Election Committee chairman said that the sentence, “There are no privileges without obligations, and without fulfilling obligations, you cannot demand privileges,” which is said in Arabic, must be removed. Text saying some Israeli Arabs do not pay municipal taxes and construct homes illegally was blacked out in Tuesday night’s broadcast. In addition, the words “No to an Arab state, no to a state of [African] infiltrators,” was ordered removed from Strong Israel’s radio ads.

According to Eldad and Ben- Ari, the content they were asked to remove is “legitimate in a civilized democracy and justified from a public and legal standpoint. Any attempt to erase them harms freedom of expression.”

The Central Election Committee had its own message at the end of campaign commercials.

It sponsored a clip featuring two plastic glasses-and-scarf-clad hipsters complaining about the government’s lack of funding for video art and other obscure areas. Comedian Yossi Marshak pulls up in a car in the uniform of the “Whine Police” and lays down the law. “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain,” Marshak tells the hipsters.
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