(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The morning after political parties big and small put their best publicity feet forward and aired their first pre-election commercials, petitions against two different ads were rejected Wednesday by the Central Elections Committee.
Committee chairman Justice Eliezer Rivlin rejected a complaint against a Kadima ad filed by former chief of General Staff Moshe Ya'alon, and upheld the legality of a controversial Aleh Yarok (Green Leaf) Party commercial that enlisted the late prime minister David Ben-Gurion in the battle to legalize marijuana.
Ya'alon appealed to block a Kadima radio advertisement that contained a comment he had allegedly made, in which he described Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu as "superficial, not serious, and doesn't read intelligence information."
Rivlin replied that the public should assume that not everything said in election advertisements is true.
"It is not a question of whether or not such things are appropriate, but that the chairman of the Central Elections Committee does not have the tools to determine whether an advertisement is true," wrote Rivlin in his response. "Even so, I don't have the authority to disqualify an advertisement on these grounds.
"The petitioner can be comforted in the fact that lies can be disproven, but I do not have the power to determine what is or isn't a lie," Rivlin added.
Regarding Aleh Yarok's advertisement, Rivlin was emphatic in his personal condemnation of the advertisement.
In his response to Israel Parks Authority Superintendent Eli Amitai, Rivlin wrote that Amitai's petition to block the commercial, in which an Aleh Yarok spokesman was filmed sitting on Ben-Gurion's grave and smoking what appeared to be a joint, "touched his heart."
However, he wrote that he was unable to forbid its continued broadcast.
"This advertisement dishonors the memory of a great leader. To tell the truth, the broadcast also caused me a certain amount of discomfort - and that is an understatement.
"If my opinion was of any weight, I would reprimand the representative of the party [and say] that as a general rule, in functional countries you do not mock the memory of the nation's founders with jokes," he wrote. "But I am not responsible for good taste."
He enlisted the help of former US Supreme Court justice John Marshall Harlan in explaining his decision not to block the broadcast, quoting Harlan as saying "one man's vulgarity is another's lyric."
Rivlin did, however, suggest that Amitai ask Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz whether filming without a permit in a national park constituted a criminal offense.