Campaign ads start with surprises

Perhaps the party’s commercials were completed too soon, because Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin, who quit the race and endorsed Likud, is attacked in a Likud ad as well.

September 4, 2019 16:50
2 minute read.
Campaign ads start with surprises

A Likud election poster shows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with US President Donald Trump under the slogan, ‘Netanyahu. In a league of his own’. (photo credit: STEVE LINDE)

Nightly broadcasts of campaign commercials on television used to be considered one of the highlights of Israeli elections.

The ads used to be run in prime time with high ratings and made news in the following day’s newspapers. Parties would save their most important messages for the commercials.

But nowadays, most parties release their ads on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter the moment they are done filming them. The networks decided to run the ads between 11 p.m. and midnight, too late for the dailies, even if the ads still made any news.

Nevertheless, there were still surprises with ads that could make an impression on those who watched them and perhaps even influence their votes.

The most startling image of the hour worth of ads was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a shtreimel and peyot (fur hat and side curls) in Yisrael Beytenu commercials that accused him of caving into the haredim (ultra-Orthodox). To be fair, Avigdor Liberman’s party accused Blue and White leader Benny Gantz of pandering to the haredim as well.

Tiberias mayor Ron Kobi also aimed attacks on haredim in his party’s ad, which Kobi taped on his phone as a selfie.

The far-Right Noam party also attracted attention by making fun of the concepts of transsexual, cross-dresser and drag queen and warning against children being taught about such people. Those words were among the few expressed in English in any ad.

The other parties that used English were Likud, with Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, and United Torah Judaism, with English speakers talking about the importance of the Western Wall.

US President Donald Trump’s 2013 endorsement of Netanyahu from before Trump entered politics was also featured in the Likud’s ads. Shas featured Netanyahu with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and asked voters to leave diplomacy to Netanyahu and socioeconomic issues to Shas.

The Likud ran its ad that spread like wildfire on social media depicting Netanyahu as a lifeguard and Gantz and his number two, Yair Lapid, as fighting over a swing. Perhaps the party’s commercials were completed too soon, because Zehut Party leader Moshe Feiglin, who quit the race last week and endorsed Likud, is attacked in a Likud ad as well.

Blue and White mixed in negative ads against Netanyahu with positive commercials in which Gantz spoke about his experiences airlifting Ethiopian immigrants to Israel and visiting Germany as IDF chief of staff and as the son of a Holocaust survivor.

In a cute gimmick, Yamina’s only ad of the night featured ordinary citizens praising “her” for many reasons. Those watching assume they are speaking about Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked. But they are actually talking about Israel.

The final gimmick was Labor Party leader Amir Peretz shaving his mustache. This was no surprise to those who have seen him since he revealed that he shaved on TV two weeks ago. But there is no doubt that the ad that features the shaving actually taking place made an impression.

But the biggest surprise was that the Pirate Party, which is known for its moxie and chutzpah, had a commercial that was the night’s most boring ad, with nothing but its platform in white on black.

Such went the first night of election commercials. There are still nearly two weeks of ads left to go.

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