Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz's criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and ministers in his cabinet will be highlighted in televised campaign ads of the Zionist Union that begin Tuesday, party officials revealed Monday.
The Zionist Union had been criticized for not placing a former IDF general in its top 20 candidates on its list, but the criticism of Gantz gives the party security credentials it lacked. The officials said that despite expectations that the Zionist Union's ads would hide its number two candidate Tzipi Livni, there would be a biographical commercial about her.
In an election campaign punctuated with humor, things will take a more serious turn when the televised campaign ads begin airing.
The first round of ads will air on Channel 10 at 4:30 p.m., and then again at 10:30 on Channel 1 and at 11 on Channel 2. They will continue with that schedule daily, except that Channel 10 will switch to 6 p.m., until the March 17 election, with exceptions for sporting events.
Over the course of the broadcasts, each party gets seven minutes of ads plus two more for each MK for which it gets campaign funding.
Many of the parties’ televised ads will be retreads of videos they already posted online, but there will be plenty of new material to watch.
The Zionist Union’s ads will be aired first on Tuesday, because it won a lottery.
Party strategist Tami Shenkman said the commercials will focus “on the responsibility from which Netanyahu flees, especially on security and socioeconomic issues.
“He blames everyone but himself – sometimes previous governments, sometimes the US government,” she added.
The Zionist Union campaign plans to contrast that with party chairman Isaac Herzog, who will be presented as a responsible leader who can repair relations with the US, rehabilitate the economy and help the poor.
Herzog’s party will show positive ads that are already online, hailing his IDF service as an intelligence officer and another showing former prime ministers David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol and Menachem Begin – and Albert Einstein – as examples of how someone short, nerdy or with a funny voice can be a leader. Another ad will highlight the candidates list as a whole.
The Likud plans to start with serious ads on Iran and Netanyahu’s speech to both houses of Congress, and will move to lighter, more humorous ones when he comes back from the US.
Netanyahu’s party will air its ads, which can currently be found online, asking where Israel would be if Ben-Gurion did not declare Israel’s statehood in 1948, Eshkol did not launch the preemptive Six Day War in 1967 and Begin did not bomb the nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981, despite American opposition in all of those cases.
Bayit Yehudi plans to keep its ads positive – as long as no one runs an attack ad against the party, spokesman Itamar Fleischman said.
“We’re going to focus on our agenda. We’re the only right-wing party left. Netanyahu gave his Bar-Ilan speech [in 2009, supporting a demilitarized Palestinian state] and [Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor] Liberman isn’t in the right-wing game anymore,” he said. “We want to show the public that they can avoid a situation in which they vote for [the Likud] and still get a left-wing government, and that the larger bloc will form the next government, not the biggest party.”
Bayit Yehudi’s commercials will emphasize chairman Naftali Bennett’s economic policies and the party’s “No apologies” slogan.
The ads will target an older audience than their counterparts on social media, but some of the commercials will be retreads of videos that can already be found on Facebook and YouTube.
Yesh Atid also plans to continue its positive campaign, presenting its achievements since the last election, such as passing the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment bill and increasing aid to Holocaust survivors. The party will use testimonials from real people telling how Yesh Atid helped them.
“People want to see what was done for them and hear what will be done for them,” a Yesh Atid spokesman explained. “We don’t use funny videos attacking other candidates or gimmicks in our campaign... it’s different, it doesn’t try to make people laugh, but speaks to what’s important to the citizens of Israel.”
Kulanu is aiming an ad featuring Begin at people who voted for the Likud in the past, with party chairman Moshe Kahlon saying he joined the right-wing party when he was 17 and it opened doors for an entire generation. The video ends with the slogan “We loved the Likud, we vote Kahlon.”
“It’s aimed at those disappointed in Netanyahu, who for years were in the Likud but don’t want to vote for it because of Bibi,” a Kulanu spokesman said.
Other ads will focus on economic issues, featuring Kahlon speaking to crowds and explaining how he will deal with the housing crisis and create more competition among banks.
Shas will concentrate on two messages during its broadcasts, that of the “invisible” Israelis, meaning the poor, on whom its Internet campaign has focused so far, as well as that of preserving Jewish identity and traditions, which for Shas means in accordance with haredi interpretations.
“Voting for Shas is a tradition and Shas will preserve tradition” is the tag line a Shas spokesman said will appear in these ads, which will show grandparents explaining this voting pattern to their grandchildren, presumably of voting age. The ads promoting this message will be bear images of the party’s late spiritual guide Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Shas and its chairman, Arye Deri, have been focusing much of their efforts on the working class, appealing in particular to those of Sephardi heritage who could have voted Shas in the past due to their respect for Yosef but who are now thinking of voting for a different party.
Yahad, the new haredi party led by renegade Shas MK Eli Yishai that has joined forces with the far-right haredi-Zionist Otzma Yehudit party, says it will focus on three issues – security, education and conversion.
A party spokesman said that the broadcasts will be amusing and good-humored, with one of the party’s MKs, Yishai or former Bayit Yehudi MK Yoni Chetboun, appearing at the end of a depiction of a problematic aspect of the way the state deals with the topic at hand to offer their solution to the issue.
So far, Yahad has not issued any ads on the Internet, most likely due to a lack of funds.
United Torah Judaism issued its first-ever Internet ad at the beginning of this week, showing a game of foosball (table football) in which Yesh Atid and Hadash players continually try to score goals against a UTJ goalkeeper on the topics of haredi military enlistment, conversion reform and National Insurance Institute child allotments.
The diligent haredi goal-keeper, complete with black hat, tzitzit and the Hebrew letter gimmel, which appears on UTJ’s voting slip, emblazoned on his chest, thwarts all strikes on the goal, with the final message appearing that “only United Torah Judaism will defend the haredi community” against the “decrees” against ultra-Orthodox Judaism.
A member of the UTJ campaign team said the party would in its TV broadcasts place a heavy emphasis on socioeconomic issues and would be appealing to all parts of the population for whom financial concerns are important, not just haredim.
“UTJ MK Ya’acov Litzman as deputy minister for health advanced free dental care for children under 14, which has now been reduced to under 12 by former health minister Yael German, MK Moshe Gafni prevented price increases on food; for us being active on economic concerns is part of our daily political work, it’s not just a trend as it is for [Yesh Atid’s former finance minister] Yair Lapid who ruined the economy,” claimed the UTJ spokesman.
He said, however, that the party’s campaign was not reliant on TV or Internet ad campaigns, since most of its voters adhere to the instructions of the community’s rabbis when they issue their “holy calls” to vote for UTJ.
Deterrence will be the central theme of Yisrael Beytenu’s televised ads, focusing on three strategies: the death penalty for terrorists, toppling Hamas, and requiring citizens to pledge loyalty.
In a video obtained by The Jerusalem Post, Yisrael Beytenu showed Ahlam Tamimi, the Palestinian woman who committed the terrorist attack on a Sbarro pizza restaurant in Jerusalem in 2001, killing 15, including seven children. The clip also shows her being released from prison in 2011, as part of the deal to free captive soldier Gilad Schalit.
“Jewish blood is not worthless. Death penalty for terrorists,” a narrator says.
“We do not free terrorists; we eliminate them,” Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman adds.
Meretz plans to focus on two messages in its ads. The first is a strategic one – a vote for Meretz is a safe one, because the party is the only one to commit to not serving in a Netanyahu government – and the second is emotional – there are other people like you, who are outraged about things happening here.
An example of the first one is a video that can already be found online depicting “the department of public complaints,” where people are lined up to complain that they voted for Herzog and got Netanyahu as prime minister.
For the second message, Meretz already posted a video featuring celebrities, such as comedian Uri Gottlieb, playwright Joshua Sobol and singer Rona Keinan, questioning voters who are unsure of whether they will vote Meretz or not.
“There’s a war here every two years and you’re still undecided? You’re afraid to go to protests because people might beat you up, and you’re still undecided?” the video asks.
The Joint (Arab) List released a campaign video on Sunday evening titled, “On behalf of the people,” which was shared in Arab media and social networks.
Raja Zaatry, a spokesman for the Joint List responsible for the media campaign, told the Post that the idea behind the video was for it to be national and represent all sectors of Arab society.
The video includes Arabs from Acre, Haifa, Nazareth, Umm el-Fahm and the Negev, he said.
The main message of the Joint List is the motto: “the people’s will” – seeking to convey that “we have an opportunity to be more powerful and stand up for our rights and get 15 Knesset seats,” Zaatry said.
In addition, the Joint List wants to show that it wants to deal with government and public racism and “will not give up our rights in our homeland,” he said.
“We are concentrating on raising Arab turnout from 56 percent in the last election to 70 to 75 percent, which would also help prevent Liberman from passing the threshold,” Zaatry said.
Reut Mor, the Joint List and Hadash Party spokeswoman in Hebrew, told the Post on Monday that a Hebrew-language video will be released soon.
Radio ads will also start on Tuesday. They will air on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet at 9:30 a.m. and again at 9:30 p.m., and on Army Radio at 10:30 a.m. and again at 20:30 p.m.Niv Elis contributed to this report.