'Sharon the good, Bibi the bad, Peretz the irrelevant'

Kadima launches TV and radio commercials attacking Netanyahu.

bibi, shalom banners 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
bibi, shalom banners 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
When Kadima's election commercials air on Tuesday night the messages will be very clear: Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is the good guy, Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu is the bad guy, Olmert is Sharon's successor and Labor chairman Amir Peretz is irrelevant. Kadima strategists Eyal Arad, Reuven Adler, Lior Chorev and Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich presented the commercials on Sunday morning in a press conference at the party's Petah Tikva headquarters. A positive commercial depicts a chain of history from Theodore Herzl to David Ben-Gurion to Sharon and Olmert. A negative ad tells viewers to look into Netanyahu's untrustworthy eyes. "We found that the Israeli public has a short memory and our opponents are trying to take advantage of it," Arad said. "The Likud is trying to hide that Netanyahu was ever prime minister. We didn't go below the belt and get personal, but we wanted to remind people why not Bibi." Kadima's polls have found that the reason the support that has fallen from Kadima has gone mainly into the undecided category is that the voters do not like Netanyahu and do not see Peretz as a worthy candidate. Peretz will not be mentioned in Kadima's television commercials, but one radio spot will make fun of his English. "We have plenty of ammunition on Peretz that we will use if necessary," Arad said. "But for now, I think it's relevant to bring up that Peretz is trying to skip from second to twelfth grade, and that it's problematic to try to represent Israel in the 21st century without knowing English." Kadima's radio ads will feature a couple of typical Israeli jokesters named "Yisrael and Yisrael," who will make fun of Netanyahu for using a decade-old picture of himself on Likud stickers and for claiming to fight Hamas when he released Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from prison. Shamalov-Berkovich, who is the 40th candidate on the Kadima list, said the party's strategy in the Russian-language sector would be the exact same as in Hebrew. "Unlike other parties that act differently toward Russian speakers and put them in a ghetto, which harms them, we believe the Russian speakers are Israelis who consider themselves part of Israeli society," Shamalov-Berkovich said. The Kadima strategists came under fire from Likud officials who pointed out that the Oslo accords were missing from the Kadima timeline of history, and the chairman of the Likud public relations team, MK Gideon Sa'ar, said the use of Sharon in the Kadima ads was cynical and disrespectful. "I think it's clear why Kadima is going to an extremely negative campaign," Sa'ar said. "They see the polls that say that the public sees Netanyahu as a leader and that Olmert is not." Arad responded that Oslo was left out because it remains controversial and the party wanted to focus on events of national consensus. Adler said that the focus on Sharon was perfectly legitimate because he founded the party and that Olmert would appear, at least briefly, in every Kadima commercial. "We started the campaign with Ariel Sharon and we switched to Ehud Olmert midway through," Adler said. "Ehud Olmert will be the star. Sharon is the founder and Olmert is his successor who will bring us to victory."