Day One of the TV campaign ads was disappointing – no party came out with a surprising new message or with an item that would evoke public discussion after its screening. In an era of social media, no clips were shown that had not been widely viewed previously on Facebook or Whatsapp. It’s doubtful whether televised electioneering such as was shown yesterday will actually impact the public agenda or the results of the elections.
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Thus, as provided for by the law, the political system took over valuable screen time to broadcast the election messages of the different parties. These will be shown daily on all three TV channels for the next two weeks.
The only party that attempted to address the public agenda was the Zionist Camp, which scoffed at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to the U.S. Congress shortly after the speech was delivered. The clip stated that in contrast to the bombing of the Iraqi reactor ordered by Menachem Begin and the Syrian one by Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu bombarded Congress with words while destroying relations with the United States.
Besides criticizing Netanyahu, a Zionist Camp clip sought to demonstrate the partnership between Herzog and Livni, showing the two praising each other, in response to Likud claims that they were hiding Livni. A second clip included graduates of the elite 8200 intelligence unit in which Herzog served, lauding his performance under pressure, and, in an effort to boost his thin security credentials, making the point that he is capable of contending with terror threats and Iran.
The Likud abandoned its earlier comic clips with Netanyahu as a babysitter or kindergarten teacher in an attempt to strengthen his image as a national leader and defender. This included the well-known clip in which he relates how his grandfather was severely beaten by anti-Semitic thugs. These clips served as a prelude to his lengthy speech in Washington, which dealt with Iran. The speech was broadcast on five-minute delay on all TV channels.
Meretz and Habayit Hayehudi waged similar campaigns, trying to induce voters to abandon the bigger parties and support them. Habayit Hayehudi reminded voters that the task of forming a coalition is given to the candidate with the better prospects, not the leader of the largest party. Meretz tried to convince voters that Herzog would form a national unity government with Likud since his chances of forming one on his own are slim. Meretz derided Livni, noting that she headed the largest party in the 18th Knesset (Kadima), yet it was Netanyahu who formed the government.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid continued to fly under the radar of the other parties. He remained immune from criticism yesterday, since Herzog and Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon realize that Lapid has gained strength at Likud’s expense. Lapid was busy working, showing himself in effective clips amongst Israelis who appreciate the changes his party made in their lives. These included young couples, Holocaust survivors, small business owners, as well as some ultra-Orthodox citizens.
Kulanu tried to portray Kahlon as charismatic and influential, in an effort to boost his standing in the polls.
Eli Yishai’s Yahad waged an interesting campaign, leaving behind its battles with Shas and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s legacy and addressing the general public. They presented an economic plan to reduce the cost of living, thus competing for middle class votes with the larger parties on economic issues.
Shas presented its well-known clip with party leader Aryeh Deri and the “transparent” Mizrahi poor, which so far, despite garnering praises, has not boosted their standing in opinion polls.
Yisrael Beiteinu is finding it difficult to appear relevant in these elections. Surveys show that party head Avigdor Lieberman is supported by recent immigrants, but that many veterans switched to other right-wing parties. His clips illustrated this, with Lieberman repeatedly delivering messages in Russian, focusing on his main message of “death to terrorists.”
The Joint List, comprised of the Arab parties and Hadash, released a campaign video entitled 'On Behalf of the People.' Set to Arabic music, the clip features Israeli Arabs in various cities around the country, including Jaffa, Jerusalem and the Negev.