Rubinstein: Election campaign law must be changed

Election panel orders Bayit Yehudi to donate NIS 10,000 to group for autistic children after party uses soldiers in ads.

Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
The Election Law must be changed to reflect modern campaigns, Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Elyakim Rubinstein said on Wednesday.
“The Election Law: Propaganda was passed in 1959, and it is very difficult to enforce, because you turn on the radio and the television, and politicians are constantly talking politics, which is mostly propaganda,” Rubinstein said in an interview with the Knesset Channel.
“The law must be fixed,” Rubinstein added. “I, as chairman of the Central Elections Committee, am not working on this topic, but if there are complaints , I deal with them.”
In the current election campaign, parties have been punished for having singers perform at their events, providing blessings to voters, posting anonymous ads on social networks and other tactics.
On Tuesday, the Central Elections Committee ordered Bayit Yehudi to donate NIS 10,000 to the Israeli Society for Autistic Children because the party continued to use IDF soldiers in its ads after the committee told it not to.
The Election Law forbids use of soldiers in campaign advertisements in a way that makes it seem like the IDF supports or is connected to the party.
Bayit Yehudi was told several times to stop using soldiers in its ads. A citizen named Daniel Balans complained to the committee after seeing an advertisement on the front page of The Jerusalem Post on Friday, in which a young new immigrant wore a T-shirt that said “making aliyah to the IDF.”
“This is the third time in which [the Bayit Yehudi] was the subject of complaints about the use of IDF soldiers,” Rubinstein said. “Therefore, I cannot look at you as someone who admits guilt and promises not to do it again, as the party requested.”
However, as the party committed not to use IDF soldiers again, Rubinstein chose not to press charges, requiring the party to give a NIS 10,000 donation within two weeks to the Israeli Society for Autistic Children, instead.
Also Tuesday, the committee required Likud Beytenu to remove a banner from an office building in Jerusalem where there are Finance Ministry offices, because public property may not be used for election campaigns.
In a related matter, the committee rejected a complaint by Peace Now secretary- general Yariv Oppenheimer against Bayit Yehudi, claiming that the party plans to use Hesder Yeshivas’ and Yeshiva High Schools’ resources and manpower on Election Day.
Oppenheimer’s petition was based on a report in Haaretz.
The party explained that they plan to pay any institution it uses and will bring its own volunteers, not use yeshiva students, which would be illegal.
As such, Rubinstein warned the party not to break the law, but did not punish it.