Shas Never Stopped Campaigning

Meretz resumes election drive, focuses on diplomatic issues

Officially, Shas suspended its electoral campaign when the war in Gaza began. In fact, however, parts are still going strong.

The party's advertising campaign in the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) press has continued unabated, under slogans such as "you need a strong Shas in the government." The ads, aimed both at its Haredi base and at supporters of the rival ultra-Orthodox party, United Torah Judaism, detail Shas' achievements in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government: more state funding for yeshivas, a successful battle against imposing a core curriculum on Haredi schools, and preventing further cuts in child allowances.

Shas is also targeting the religious Zionist public, hoping to benefit from the bitter infighting among the religious Zionist parties: On Friday, it ran ads in the free weekly Basheva, which is distributed primarily in religious Zionist communities.

In addition, it has plastered huge advertisements on buses, posted a 37-minute campaign video on its Web site and e-mailed the video to supporters.

Meanwhile, Meretz decided last week to resume its campaign, which it formally suspended when the fighting in Gaza first broke out.

The centerpiece of the renewed campaign will be a demand that Israel stop its assault on Gaza immediately. The party plans to put up posters and bus advertisements this week bearing the slogan: "We aren't compromising: A diplomatic solution is needed." Later, the "we aren't compromising" heading will also be used in the party's campaign ads on other issues, such as education and the environment.

Meretz had originally hoped to focus its campaign primarily on socioeconomic issues. However, the operation in Gaza forced it to revise this approach.