Bibi's bomb, army boots and words from the heart

Parties show their creative side in clips for concentrated election commercials broadcast.

PM points to map in Likud Beytenu campaign video 370 (photo credit: Screenshot)
PM points to map in Likud Beytenu campaign video 370
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Political parties across the spectrum have prepared for weeks ahead of Tuesday night’s election commercials broadcast, with video clips featuring maps, cartoons, humor, improvisation and more.
The televised “Election Propaganda Broadcasts,” as they are officially called, will first be broadcast in Hebrew on Tuesday at 6 p.m. on Channel 10, followed by Channel 1 at 10 p.m. and Channel 2 at 11:15 p.m. They will continue on Sundays through Thursdays until January 21. Election commercials will also be played on Israel Radio and, for the first time, on Army Radio.
The ads are played all at once, and time is allocated according to the party’s size in the current Knesset, while new parties get a standard amount. It is illegal for parties to buy television or radio ads to be broadcast at any other time.
Likud Beytenu has released previews of its commercials in recent weeks, most of which prominently feature Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
One clip, aimed at amplifying the “King Bibi” effect, is almost entirely in English, consisting of the prime minister’s speeches before the US Congress and the UN, with uplifting music in the background.
The commercial features Netanyahu’s standing ovation from Congress, his discussion of the Jewish people’s history in Israel, and his drawing a red line on a cartoon of a bomb to indicate the Iranian nuclear threat.
The commercial concludes with the message: When Netanyahu speaks, the world listens.
Another Likud Beytenu clip shows the prime minister in front of a map in his office, discussing regional threats. In the video, Netanyahu points to Syria, Lebanon and Sinai as sources of terror attacks that his government worked to prevent, and indicated Iran on the map, saying he enlisted the world’s help to fight the nuclear threat. In addition, he mentioned Iron Dome batteries installed in the South and Egyptian border fence.
Though Likud Beytenu did not send previews of clips featuring celebrities, some of its commercials are expected to feature them, as the party requested a legal opinion from Central Election Committee chairman Judge Elyakim Rubinstein on the issue, and he allowed it. Celebrities that have come out in support of the Likud in recent weeks include former soccer player Haim Revivo and popular singer Eyal Golan.
Labor would not reveal details of its commercials, but campaign spokesman Amir Koren explained its approach, which could be described as the opposite of Likud Beytenu’s.
Candidates from the Labor list, including party leader Shelly Yacimovich, were put in front of a plain backdrop and given a topic to discuss. The candidates improvised answers and “spoke from the heart,” as Koren said.
The Labor campaign invited The Jerusalem Post behind the scenes when Yacimovich filmed her portion of the commercial in December. Dressed in her usual oxford shirt, Yacimovich spoke directly to the camera about how her parents saved money to pay her university tuition. The clip, she explained, is meant to appeal to the middle class, with a cliche-free approach to economics.
The Bayit Yehudi will continue with its campaign to portray its party as the most “combative” – that is, with the most impressive military credentials – and features the slogan “we’ll fight for you in the Knesset, too.”
The party’s first ad shows a man in a suit and tie ready to be filmed for a commercial.
Someone off screen asks “what’s with your shoes?” and the camera pans down to show the man is wearing scuffed army boots. Then, the military records of several of the party’s candidates are listed.
The party’s campaign manager, Moshe Klughaft, said the Bayit Yehudi’s other ads will emphasize the party’s young list and the way it represents different parts of Israeli society – kibbutzim, the periphery, and both secular and religious.
Other Bayit Yehudi commercials will feature videos, concepts and images contributed by the party’s supporters via a Facebook application.
The Tzipi Livni Party’s ad begins with a blue screen and Netanyahu speaking about talks with the Palestinians. As the prime minister’s voice is heard, “Hatikva” plays and the screen becomes black. The message “Why does it feel so black?” appears. Then, the blackness slowly disappears as Livni talks about hope. The screen clears up, and photos appear of Livni hugging and kissing people.
Another Tzipi Livni Party commercial contrasts Netanyahu and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman talking tough about Hamas, with Hamas leaders celebrating victory.
“Bibi and Liberman – Fear,” the ad reads. Then, Livni speaks about a Jewish and democratic state, while Israeli flags wave in the background, and the screen says she will bring hope to Israel.
Yesh Atid had yet to finish preparing its commercials at press time and declined to comment.
Kadima’s ad relies on the high name recognition its leader, Shaul Mofaz, enjoys, as opposed to the lists of other parties. In the commercial, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman and Kadima MK Ronnie Bar- On, who is taking a break from politics, is shown on a white background with photographs of candidates from Labor, the Bayit Yehudi, Yesh Atid and The Tzipi Livni Party.
Bar-On points to the pictures and asks: “Who do you want to see in the Knesset? Inexperienced candidates, or the head of Kadima, former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz? Seriously, do you really prefer them over Mofaz?”
Although Meretz’s campaign said televised election ads have less of an influence in the age of social media and YouTube, the party produced several commercials.
One is an animated clip explaining to left-wing voters why they should choose Meretz, instead of moving to Center-Left parties like Labor, The Tzipi Livni Party and Yesh Atid. Another features a message from Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On, and yet another lists the party’s accomplishments in the last Knesset, in order to make the point that it is possible to have an influence from the opposition.
On the opposite side of the political spectrum is Strong Israel, which has already released one of its commercials via YouTube. The ad begins with a message that many Israeli Arabs do not pay their share of taxes and a jingle calling for “hawks in the voting booth and hawks in the Knesset.”
Then, the clip shows the party’s leader, MK Michael Ben-Ari, offering tea and saying “fadel” (please in Arabic) to Strong Israel’s other leader, Arieh Eldad, who accepts and says “shukran” (thank you in Arabic). The two continue to have a conversation in Arabic with Hebrew subtitles essentially saying that all citizens must fulfill their obligations to society before receiving benefits.
Shas and UTJ also produce video clips, though their electorate – especially that of UTJ – tends not to watch television.
Shas’s clips always prominently feature the party’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, while both parties have tended in recent elections to focus campaign commercials on their work to increase welfare benefits.
Am Shalem, started by maverick Shas MK Haim Amsalem, will broadcast an attack ad on Shas, featuring people with their mouths taped shut.
“Shas is silencing you,” the ad says. Amsalem continues to say that it is not against the Torah for religious people to study the Education Ministry’s core curriculum and learn math, and that they should work, as well. The clip concludes with tape being removed from a woman’s mouth.