Complaints abound that negative campaigning has driven this election into the gutter, but there is one party that is aiming for the toilet: The Pirate Party.
The party is part of an international movement, but its official name for Israel’s April 9 election is now “The Pirates led by the Internet, a note for diarrhea,” after the Central Elections Committee authorized party names on Sunday.
The word for diarrhea in Hebrew, shilshul, shares a root with leshalshel, to drop, the term used for putting the slips of paper used for voting in Israeli elections into ballot boxes.
When The Pirates proposed the name to the committee last month, its director-general Orly Ades burst out laughing.
A Likud representative said she opposes the name, saying it “shames democracy,” and Likud MK David Bitan, another of the party’s representatives on the committee, said that if The Pirates merge with Meretz, whose name means vigor, the new party name would be “vigorous diarrhea.”
Committee chairman Justice Hanan Melcer said he “can’t find any grounds for disqualifying” the name, though he pointed out that it is grammatically incorrect.
The Pirates, led by Ohad Shemtov and Noam Kozer, presented themselves to the committee in pirate-style hats and shirts featuring skulls and crossbones.
Shemtov and Kozer, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post last month, spoke of cutting waste and flushing out corruption.
“We believe that instead of putting pieces of paper into cardboard boxes, we can use the Internet to make better policy,” Kozer said: “to fight corruption and transparency and keep the citizens’ privacy and welfare.”
But the duo was also highly focused on another aspect of its platform.
“We are very much into legalization of cannabis,” Kozer said.
“We smoke weed all the time!” Shemtov admitted.
“Only in legal times,” Kozer interjected. “I think most people in Israel and abroad are aware that the status of cannabis as an illegal substance is wrong.”
In February, Kozer and Shemtov brought to the Knesset Dr. Keith Goldstein, secretary-general of Pirate Parties International, an Israeli citizen working on a post-doctorate at Hebrew University.
The website of Pirate Parties International, which coordinates like-minded parties in 37 countries, including some in which the party has members of parliament, says that they advocate for “the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the digital age, consumer and authors’ rights-oriented reform of copyright and related rights, support for information privacy, transparency and free access to information.”
This is the Pirates’ third election in Israel, and they have come close to reaching the threshold that would get their representatives in the Knesset, which means that votes for diarrhea next month may very well be figuratively flushed down the toilet.
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