The Association for Civil Rights in Israel on Thursday announced that it has
written to the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, Justice Elyakim
Rubinstein to protest his ban of certain Strong Israel and Balad party election
Strong Israel aired a broadcast with the slogan “not
an Arab country, and not a country of infiltrators,” referring to its positions
to marginalize the identity of the state’s non- Jewish inhabitants and to push
for policies discouraging African migrants from staying in the
Balad broadcasted in one of its radio spots the words of the
national anthem “Hatikva” to the melody of an Arabic pop song.
unclear exactly what Balad’s intent was in parodying “Hatikva.”
juxtaposition of banning messages from parties on the opposite extremes of the
spectrum was noteworthy, as well as ACRI’s protest for both sides.
more often than not fights for causes associated with more left-wing politics,
although it is not formally associated with any party.
said it will file a petition to the High Court of Justice in the coming days
against Justice Rubinstein’s January 7 decision to prohibit the right-wing
Strong Israel and Israeli-Arab Balad parties from including the above messages
in their publicity campaigns.
According to ACRI, under Israeli elections
law, during the two weeks preceding the elections, each of the political parties
is given access to public radio and television airwaves at designated times to
air their political message in a short broadcast.
Regarding the Strong
Israel broadcast, the election committee announced that the words “not an Arab
country, and not a country of infiltrators” must be struck from the radio
Justice Rubinstein also said that he is considering
disallowing the expressions “no rights without obligations,” and “without the
fulfillment of these obligations, rights cannot be demanded.” The decision to
disallow parts of the campaign broadcast was taken with the party’s agreement,
but without a legal explanation, said ACRI.
Regarding the Balad broadcast
which appeared to parody “Hatikva,” the spot was disqualified in
Justice Rubinstein noted that the radio spot presented the national
anthem in a distorted and ridiculing manner, and stated that “contempt of the
symbols of the state, the Jewish and democratic state, is not acceptable to
While this was a more detailed explanation, it was still unclear to
what extent the decision was a legal versus a values
Attorney Dan Yakir, ACRI chief legal counsel, said,
“Freedom of expression includes the right to broadcast satire and provocative
He added, “This is especially important when it comes to
election campaign broadcasts, which are intended to help citizens decide for
whom to vote. The decision to disallow parts of the broadcasts was not founded
on the tests for the limitation of freedom of expression established by the
Supreme Court, and therefore has no legal basis.”
“While radio and
television are no longer the exclusive channels for a political campaign’s
public exposure (and it is safe to assume that the disqualifications will only
increase the visibility of these messages), when a Supreme Court Justice harms
the freedom of expression without valid justification, it creates a dangerous
precedent,” said Yakir.
Last month Justice Rubinstein disqualified Strong
Israel’s billboard campaign, a decision that ACRI also opposed.
the election commission’s disqualification of Balad MK Haneen Zoabi, eventually
overturned by the High Court of Justice, Rubinstein had abstained.