Israeli Parties Wage Video Campaign War Ahead of Election

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Cartoon versions of Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, in a still from a Likud campaign video.Credit: YouTube

Voters in Israel's March 17 national election will have to make judgments on serious issues - war and peace (talks), democratic values, corruption, inequality - but the parties' widely viewed campaign ads (and a video game) have largely paired a generous dose of humor with the sharing capabilities of the Web.

Here are a few of the standouts so far, though we can expect more in the nearly two months before the March 17 election:


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu portrays centrists Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid and right-wing rivals Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett as unruly kindergarten children, with Netanyahu the only grown-up in the room. WATCH:

In another campaign video, Likud targets Zionist Camp, the merger between Labor's Isaac Herzog and Hatnuah's Livni. The video shows cartoon versions of the two leaders sitting behind a desk, arguing with each other over which one should answer the ringing red telephone.

Zionist Camp

Shortly after Netanyahu was captured by video cameras pushing his way to the front row of this month's Paris march, a short video game called "Push the Bibi" hit the Web. When the game ends, players are told: "When Bibi wins, everyone else loses."

Habayit Hayehudi

Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett launched his party recruitment campaign by mocking the left in a video starring himself as an overly apologetic secular Jew in Tel Aviv that ends by saying, "From now on, we're going to stop apologizing." WATCH:


In a direct put-down in response to the Habayit Hayehudi video, Meretz posted a video on Facebook that initially showed party chairwoman Zahava Gal-On dressing up as an ultra-Orthodox woman, then cut to text saying: "You think? Meretz doesn't make fun of brothers and sisters." Here's Gal-On pretending to pretend:


Unlike these other campaign ads, a video by Shas uses emotion rather than humor in its attempt to win over prospective voters. It depicts Israelis who are unemployed or in working-class jobs - a gas station attendant, a bagger in a supermarket, a housekeeper - as transparent in the view of the middle- and upper-class Israelis they are often serving. "Eveyone's talking about the middle class, but who will worry about the more than 2 million impoverished Israelis?" Shas chairman Aryeh Deri wrote on his Facebook page, where he posted the video.

The ad seems to be a play for voters who are considering parties like Habayit Hayehudi and Yesh Atid, which have a staunch middle-class constitutency. Here's a still from the video, showing a transparent bagger at work: