The Zionist Union’s young guard on Wednesday launched a new campaign front against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under the slogan “Only a sucker votes for Netanyahu.”
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The move was prompted by dissatisfaction with the joint Labor-Hatnuah slate’s floundering campaign, which has been blasted by senior Zionist Union figures, as well as by the party’s standstill in public opinion surveys.
The new thrust in the campaign is to be waged on social networks, billboards and other media with catchphrases such as “15 years of Qassam rockets on the Gaza border communities, and all he’s got is slogans,” “He buys ice cream for 10,000 shekels and you don’t have money for cottage cheese,” and “One of three children in Israel is hungry, and he buys breakfast for 20,000 shekels.” The last slogan refers to Haaretz’s report about a breakfast that Netanyahu and an American guest had with their respective entourages for about 20,000 shekels, at the state’s expense.
The Zionist Union’s campaign began already on Sunday to take a more aggressive turn toward Netanyahu, as its leaders called for a television debate between the slate’s leader, Isaac Herzog, and the slate’s leader. The challenge led TV channels 2 and 10 to invite partly leaders to debates, despite the prime minister’s objection. At the same time Herzog slammed Netanyahu in a series of video clips, while Zionist Union activists held a news conference outside Israel Hayom’s editorial office. The Zionist Union distributed “dollar bills” bearing the images of Netanyahu and his billionaire patron Sheldon Adelson, owner of the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom.
Members of the young guard said the new approach was essential because Netanyahu had turned Israelis into weak, despairing people who are busy surviving instead of living, and who believe all kinds of falsehoods and threats.
“Only tired people are ready to surrender to reality and only defeated people don’t fight to get what they deserve. But we’ve finished being like that. We’re done with being Netanyahu’s punching bag. In these elections – we’re not suckers!” one activist said.
Haaretz reported on Tuesday that Herzog was considering firing the Peer Levin PR agency from running the party’s campaign, or at least reducing the agency’s part in the campaign considerably.
At the end of a meeting Herzog had with campaign chief Eitan Cabel and Peer Levin people on Tuesday, no decision was made. The Zionist Union denied rumors that any changes had been made in the campaign staff or that anyone had been sacked.
Labor’s campaign chief, Shimon Batat, had contracted the Peer Levin agency after the Knesset dispersed to run the party’s campaign, paying the agency 1.4 million shekels ($360,000), three times more than the cost of the agency that led Labor’s previous campaign.
“We’re frustrated. We have money, lots of energy, but the campaign is so bad,” one party candidates said this week. “We’re a month before elections and there’s no buzz, no excitement, not even fliers to distribute.”
About three weeks ago Labor reopened the contract with Pe’er Levin and slashed its budget by half a million shekels. It also hired a strategist and three leading pollsters at the cost of 710,000 shekels.