'Ideologically Controversial:' Israeli TV Channels Refuse to Run Anti-dairy Ad on Shavuot

'The ad’s initial wording and content might have offended the sensibilities of parts of the Israeli public as well as good taste,' the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation says

Shira Makin
Shira Makin
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A screenshot from the anti-dairy Shavuot campaign.
A screenshot from the anti-dairy Shavuot campaign.
Shira Makin
Shira Makin

Israeli television channels are refusing to run an advertisement arguing that this weekend's Shavuot holiday ought to be celebrated with fruits and vegetables rather than the traditional dairy products.

The ad campaign was prepared by Freedom Farm, an educational institute and shelter for animals rescued from the food industry, under the slogan “Shavuot isn’t the dairy holiday at all.”

The script read: “The dairy industry has worked for years to brand Shavuot as the holiday of cheeses, but the truth is that this is the harvest holiday, the holiday of the giving of the Torah, the holiday of first fruits – a celebration of agricultural produce, the fruits of the land, a season of a colorful abundance of fruits and vegetables.”

Both the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation and the Second Authority for Television and Radio refused to run the ad, which was intended in part to raise awareness of the high carbon footprint of animal-based food products, the suffering these industries cause to animals and the benefits of veganism.

The campaign included televised children’s songs; billboards showing a cow in a truck with the slogan, “He goes in the morning and doesn’t return at night, Shavuot isn’t the dairy holiday at all”; a booklet of vegan recipes; and a website with information about the damage the dairy industry causes the environment, the climate and human health.

“The animals’ voice has once again been silenced,” Freedom Farm wrote on its Facebook change after learning that the ad had been rejected. “Ads about dairy products continue to appear ceaselessly all over television and radio, but one ad presenting the other side – how animals suffer in the dairy industry – was already too much. Are the dairy industry’s interests the only ones worthy of being advertised in the media? Are they the ones that determine which information deserves to reach the public and which does not?”

Kan 11, the public television station, told Haaretz that the issue at stake is “ideologically controversial,” and “the ad’s initial wording and content might have offended the sensibilities of parts of the Israeli public as well as good taste, among other things by using a children’s song and the way it was used.” This would have violated Israel’s rules for advertisements on public broadcasting, it said.

“The advertisers were asked to send a script that meets these rules, with suggested changes, but opted not to do so,” it added.

The rules in question forbid advertisements on “a politically or ideologically controversial issue” as well as advertisements that offend people based on religion, nationality, ethnicity, community or sexual orientation, “including offending the religious sensibilities of any part of the country’s population, or things that could offend the natural or cultural sensibilities of Israeli minorities.”

The Second Authority, which is responsible for the commercial television channels 12 and 13, did not respond to Haaretz’s questions.

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