Election Broadcast Ads Start Tuesday, and So Has the Censorship

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Campaign ads for the January 22 election began Tuesday on Israeli television and radio channels. For the first time, Army Radio is joining the state broadcaster and the local commercial television channels in airing the government-funded party ads.

The hour-long broadcast begins at 6 P.M. on Channel 10, at 10 P.M. on Channel 1 and 11:20 P.M. on Channel 2. The channels of Israel Radio will air them after the 8 A.M., 2 P.M. and 6 P.M. news broadcasts. On Army Radio the nightly ads will air at 8:30 P.M.

In a change from previous years, a lottery will be used to determine which party comes first and last in the broadcast. The decision was made by the chairman of the Central Elections Committee, former Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, after a new party, Eretz Chadasha, protested the arrangement whereby the order was determined by representatives from the largest parties.

Rubinstein yesterday disqualified a part of the Balad party's ad, ruling that it "distorts and ridicules 'Hatikva.' " The offensive section features a cartoon depiction of former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, singing the Israeli national anthem with an Arab accent.

Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka attacked the decision, calling it "a continuation of the campaign of gagging and intimidation against Balad and its constituents. Again, it becomes apparent that what is permitted to the extreme right in Israel is forbidden to the Arab public. The disqualification will not eliminate the harsh reality reflected in the video. Anyone who thinks that citizenship and rights are conditional upon swearing allegiance and singing the national anthem doesn’t understand democracy and deserves to be savagely satirized. We invite the general public to view the video on the Internet."

Rubinstein is also considering barring the broadcast of the parts of the Otzma Leyisrael ad in which "No rights without duties, and without the fulfillment of duties one cannot demand rights” is heard, in Arabic.

The banned Balad video

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