Israeli celebrities, generally concerned with pitching products and gaining Instagram followers, have rallied around a campaign to raise voter turnout in these unprecedented do-over elections.
Most of them did not endorse a specific party, but urged their fans and followers to get out and vote.
led the way on Instagram, posting a photo of the words “Get out and vote” in Hebrew dozens of times in white letters on a black background on Monday. The Wonder Woman star generally posts in English to her 30 million-plus followers, so this was a sign of her continued engagement with Israel. In Hebrew, the caption reads: “So simple and so important. No matter who you choose to vote for. Choose to choose. This is our greatest responsibility as citizens. Let’s increase the voting percentage once and for all. Because this is the land of us all.”
The closest parallel Israel has to a “Rock the Vote” campaign like the one fronted by celebrities in the US is the Vote 70 movement, an initiative on social media to get out the vote above the 70% threshold, which has been endorsed by dozens of companies, particularly ones that appeal to young people – a demographic that traditionally has low turnout. These businesses will give anyone who uploads a photo of themselves voting a discount so that they only have to pay 70% of their bill at these establishments on voting day.
One celebrity who publicly supported this campaign on his Instagram account was Fauda star and singer Tsahi Halevi. Halevi doesn’t need to prove his left-of-center credentials to anyone, since he announced this year that he and Israeli Arab television personality Lucy Aharish married in 2018. He wrote a few lines exhorting his followers to show up to vote, saying, “We’ll meet at the ballot box.” He also posed with a child in another post, saying voting was an obligation to make the world better for children.
Halevi’s wife, Israeli Arab television personality Lucy Aharish, posted her own get-out-the-vote message.
Other celebs who used their social media platforms to get out the vote included models Galit Guman, actress Noa Tishby, model Bar Refaeli
(who added a vote message to her Instagram story), actress Orna Banai (who posted an anti-corruption message), actress Maya Dagan and model Chelli Goldenberg (who posted a photo of a lone shark surrounded by a huge school of fish next words of criticism of the prime minister on her Instagram account).
Eyal Kitzis, the host of the popular political satire program Eretz Nehederet (Wonderful Country), took the get-out-the-vote campaign a step further on the program’s Instagram account. He urged fans to vote, take selfies and tag Eretz Nehederet and said they would be included on the show’s Instagram feed. But he didn’t stop there. He also said that if they knew someone who wasn’t voting, they should photograph them, tag them and promised “We’ll take care of them,” but didn’t specify how.
The Shadow, a rapper known for his right-wing leanings, released a new song a few days ago that criticizes politicians on every side of the spectrum, including the prime minister.
Curiously, Rotem Sela, Israel’s most popular pitch-woman and one of the hosts of Ninja Israel, had not addressed the election as of Tuesday morning, even though in March, she famously sparred with the prime minister. She criticized the Nation-State Law and drew criticism from Netanyahu himself. Gadot stepped in to defend her at the time. Sela’s two most recent Instagram posts feature her taking a pole dancing class as a promotional stunt for the clothing brand Castro.
Some of the promotions got downright silly. The Jerusalem Post’s Gil Hoffman reported on Twitter that Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai, who had promised 10 shekel beers to anyone who proved that they had voted, was prevented from carrying out this plan by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, although Shas leader Arye Deri who petitioned to have this offer struck down. Apparently, Huldai didn’t know that in the US, bars are closed on Election Day so that politicians can’t bribe people with free drinks.
Even Durex, the condom company, joined in, with an advertisement that said, “If you can do it twice a night, you can do it twice a year,” referring to the second round of elections.
One Israeli entertainment industry veteran commented on why so many American celebrities go all out to endorse political candidates while relatively few Israelis do.
“American actors and musicians, like Beyonce, Meryl Streep and Bruce Springsteen,” – all of whom publicly supported Hillary Clinton in her bid for president – “are simply so rich, they can do whatever they want. But, as a director I worked with once said, ‘No one ever built a mansion with money made in the Israeli entertainment industry,’” he said.
“That was a few years ago. Now, maybe a couple of the most successful people on TV and commercials have built their mansion in Israel. But it’s not that big. And they’ve got a mortgage on it. And if they go out on a limb and campaign for someone, they risk going down in popularity and losing their contracts,” the entertainment industry insider said. “Most of the entertainment people, not all, but most, are probably for Blue and White or the Democratic Union. But they know that a lot of the people who buy the cosmetics or whatever that they promote are probably pro-Bibi. So they’ll smile and say, ‘Go vote,’ but not more than that.”