Elections C'tee bans online anonymous ad attacks

Decision follows Bayit Yehudi's petition against Likud Beytenu after anonymous ads on Facebook tie Bennett to controversial rabbis.

January 5, 2013 09:05
3 minute read.
Naftali Bennett behind barbed wire

Bennett barbed wire 370. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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It is illegal to post anonymous political advertisements on the Internet, the Central Elections Committee chairman said on Friday.

According to the ruling, the Election Law, which forbids the use of anonymous campaign advertising in newspapers and bulletin boards, also applies to the Internet.

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Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, chairman of the Central Elections Committee, said there is no reason why the Election Law on propaganda methods “should not apply to online advertisements.”

The Bayit Yehudi party petitioned the committee on Wednesday to issue a restraining order against Facebook and Likud Beytenu after anonymous ads tying Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett to controversial rabbis appeared on the social network.

The offending advertisements feature Bennett with 
white-bearded rabbis and the headline in Hebrew “Who stands behind 

The offending advertisements feature Bennett with white-bearded rabbis and the headline in Hebrew “Who stands behind Bennett?” One ad says, “Rabbi Zalman Melamed, who preaches to refuse military orders, stands behind Bennett.” Another reads, “Half of the Bayit Yehudi list was chosen by extremist Tekuma rabbis and is committed to listen only to them.”

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The Tekuma and Moledet parties now make up the National Union, which is running on a joint list with Bayit Yehudi in the January 22 election.

Another ad on Facebook says, “Rabbi Dov Lior, who thinks Baruch Goldstein is a holier martyr than all those killed in the Holocaust, stands behind Bennett.”

Baruch Goldstein was an American-born doctor who killed 29 Muslim worshipers at Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs in 1994.

The party’s complaint demands that Facebook remove the ads immediately and reveal who sponsored them, and asks the Central Elections Committee to punish Likud Beytenu, if it is involved in funding the anonymous advertisements.

Facebook said in response to an inquiry by The Jerusalem Post that advertisers are responsible for ensuring that their ads comply with all applicable laws, statutes and regulations.

In light of two incidents in which Likud Beytenu or its supporters were connected to anonymous anti-Bayit Yehudi ads, the latter party wrote in its complaint that it is “highly probable that this time, as well, [Likud Beytenu] is behind these advertisements.”

The Bayit Yehudi did not, however, present any proof that Likud Beytenu sponsored the new advertisements.

In a related incident, Moshe Ifargan, No. 96 on the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu Knesset candidates list, sponsored advertisements calling the Bayit Yehudi the “Jewish Ghetto” and featuring Bennett behind barbed wire and with a yellow star.

Following complaints to the police and the Central Elections Committee by the Bayit Yehudi and the Likud, which said the ad is not funded by or in any way connected to the party, Ifargan pulled the ads on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Rubinstein came out against the “Jewish Ghetto” ads.

“There is no need to describe the inappropriateness of using the Holocaust for election campaign needs,” he said. “This is distressing and offended the public. Even in a political discourse, we need limits, and the use of Holocaust symbolism is beyond those limits.”

Last week, Likud Beytenu funded anonymous ads in three newspapers claiming Bennett called for soldiers to refuse orders, after he said on a televised interview that he would not be able to evacuate settlements, even if he were commanded to do so as a reservist.

The Central Elections Committee fined Likud Beytenu and the newspapers that published the ads for violating the Election Law.

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