They are no longer the central attraction of elections that they used to be, but the official ads of the 39 parties running in the March 23 election still attracted attention when they began running on Tuesday night.
The ads once ran in prime time, but now that parties distribute their commercials on social media and WhatsApp, the ads have been relegated to late night TV, except on the right-wing Channel 20.
This election’s commercials featured a mix of positive and negative ads in selling the parties to the Israeli public.
The Likud’s ads featured a contrast between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Yair Lapid. They depicted Netanyahu bringing vaccines and peace agreements with Arab countries and Lapid making predictions, that proved false, about how lack of progress with the Palestinians would harm the economy.
Lapid was portrayed as flip-flopping about including the Joint List in his coalition and being an authority only on whether Elvis and Paul McCartney are alive or dead.
Yesh Atid, Yamina and New Hope are equated in the Likud’s ads with controversial Labor candidate Ibtisam Mara’ana. The ruling party’s ads warn that a vote for the parties of Yair Lapid, Naftali Bennett or Gideon Sa’ar is “a vote for an anti-Zionist government.”
Neither Yesh Atid, nor New Hope struck back in their ads, which were positive. Yesh Atid’s ads featured prospective headlines after Lapid would form a government, while New Hope’s featured the biography of Sa’ar with Russian subtitles. Yamina did not have any ads on Tuesday.
Another party that ran negative ads was Yisrael Beytenu, which showed a brick and said “this is a block” and then showed Netanyahu and his haredi (ultra-Orthodox) allies and said “This is not a block. It’s a junta that will do anything to stay in power.”
United Torah Judaism responded to attacks from Yisrael Beytenu and from the press during the coronavirus crisis. Its ads said the word haredi should have positive, not negative connotations.
Other parties tried to attract voters with emotional messages. Shas’s ad was about elderly people who missed their grandchildren due to the pandemic.
Blue and White’s ad featured party leader Benny Gantz confronting disappointed voters who come back to the party. Meretz thanked anti-Netanyahu protesters for their efforts.
There were also small parties who have no chance of crossing the electoral threshold. The Seder Hadash Party used a cartoon to advocate changing the electoral system. The Atzmenu Party’s ad featured the crumpling of the ballots of mainstream parties.