Not four nothing: Most Israeli celebs aren’t rocking the vote

While American celebrities try to energize young voters with a Rock-the-Vote campaign before elections, Israeli celebrities are posting and tweeting as usual about their careers.

Israeli celebrities post on Instagram, September 20, 2017. (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Israeli celebrities post on Instagram, September 20, 2017.
(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
Maybe it’s the un-four-tunate fact that they are getting tired of going to the polls, but most Israeli celebrities have been indifferent to the elections for the Knesset on Tuesday, the fourth in fewer than two years. 
While American celebrities try to energize youth vote with a Rock-the-Vote campaign before elections, Israeli celebrities are posting and tweeting — but few are urging their fans to cast their ballots for a certain party, or even to vote at all. 
This could be due to the fact that even the best-known celebs in Israel do not earn all that much from movie, television or concert appearances compared to their counterparts abroad and so a high percentage appear in commercials and promote products on social media — call them the Pitcherati. These commercial appearances are very highly paid and often come with a clause in their contract that they may not make political statements. 
The closest thing to an Israeli Rock-the-Vote movement during the past year have been the anti-Netanyahu demonstrations at the prime minister’s residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, held mostly on Saturday nights. At a rally last Saturday — the largest ever according to organizers — several celebrities spoke. These included actor Lior Ashkenazi and singers Avinoam Nini and Danni Bassan, as well as the music group, Lucille Crew, who urged voters to unseat the prime minister. 
Another singer who bucked the apolitical trend is Aviv Geffen, who has spoken about his support for Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party in recent weeks, and tweeted his support for Lapid on Tuesday morning. He was outspoken during the pandemic about his feeling that the government had abandoned artists and culture sector workers and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the issue, but in the end, Lapid got his vote. 
One pro-Bibi celebrity is singer Eden Ben Zaken, who recorded a duet with the prime minister in December. In a bizarre development on Tuesday, Ben Zaken's Instagram account was hacked and it was made to look as if the singer herself had posted an anti-Bibi message, telling him, "Come on, go" – the word "go" is a buzzword of the anti-Bibi camp. She posted a message on Instagram announcing the hack and saying that the matter was being handled by her lawyers. Netanyahu took time out of his election day schedule to visit the singer in her Rishon Lezion home and posed for photos with her and her son, Michel. Speaking to her son, she joked, "Did you see that the prime minister broke into my Instagram?" Netanyahu replied, "I was told you wrote me 'Go.'" Ben Zaken said, "That's not true!" The prime minister smiled, saying,  "I'm sure it's not true, but I tell everyone yes to go. Go to the polls." He tweeted photos of the visit, with the message, "I went to take Eden Ben Zaken out to vote."
Journalist, TV personality and producer Gal Uchovsky, who is active in the LGBTQ movement in Israel, posted photos of himself voting for Yesh Atid on Instagram. 
Nicol Raidman, the entrepreneur and singer, posted support for the Likud and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Instagram and urged her followers to go out and vote. On the Niv Raskin show on Channel 12 in the morning, she complained about getting too many robocalls from Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu Party. 
Among the intellectuals and cultural figures supporting the Meretz Party are film director Eytan Fox, singers David Broza and Rona Kenan, playwright Yehoshua Sobol and authors David Grossman and A. B. Yehoshua.
But many celebrities continue to stay out of the fray. On Raskin’s show, the host said he would speak to singer/actor Aviv Alush about a song he had written for the elections. But when Alush appeared, he said he had written the song a few months ago when he was ill with the coronavirus. The tune, an anthem to love, is not political and he said he preferred to keep politics “on the side.”
Raskin also hosted the children of politicians, including the sons of Lapid, Ze’ev Elkin of New Hope and Keren Barak of Likud and the daughter of Chili Tropper of Blue and White. The children were as poised as their parents and spoke diplomatically about the challenges they face being in the public eye. Elkin’s son said he had to explain to his friends that his father is not a “leftist” because he  left the Likud Party to run with Gideon Sa’ar in New Hope. 
Several candidates have partners who are celebrities in their own right. Both Sa’ar and Labor Party head Merav Michaeli voted with their television presenter parties, Geula Even Sa’ar and Lior Schleien, respectively. 
Cosmetics entrepreneur and model Pnina Rosenblum, who served in the Knesset for the Likud briefly in 2005, said on Channel 12 Tuesday morning that there were too many small parties and that people should go out and vote for large parties. But she also used her appearance on the show to promote her CBD-infused cosmetic products.
Ben & Jerry’s Israel, which never misses an opportunity to use current events to promote its brand, has revived its One Sweet Vote flavor: Vanilla ice cream combined with fudge pieces in the shape of the peace symbol and fudge-coated almonds, and chocolate ice cream with blondies and white fudge pieces. Anyone who buys a pint of ice cream at one of their stores today will receive a free scoop of this flavor. Perhaps the ice cream can sweeten the deja vu of these elections.