What's in a Slogan?

A further look at five campaign slogans of the 2013 Knesset race.

Likud: A strong prime minister, a strong Israel

The equation says that for the state to be strong, the prime minister must be strong. And for the prime minister to be strong he needs to receive as much power as possible from the voters. In the complementary campaign, Netanyahu does appeal to the voters using the slogan "I need you." But, the truly important equation is that which is not spoken but only left hanging underneath the words, the slogan which defines Benjamin Netanyahu's perception of leadership. Netanyahu believes that the strength of the country is a derivative of the size of the party headed by the prime minister. This is a view that assumes that dividing votes and intellectual pluralism weaken the national body, and it is uniformity of thought and centralized power that strengthen it. For Netanyahu, strength is identified with size, or, to be exact, the power to rule. As to the essential question, what is to be done with all that power? It seems that the answer is found inside the decision not to publish a party platform - in other words without content. For Netanyahu, the ability to fill time in power that is devoid of content is the supreme goal. And exactly for this he "needs you."

Labor: It can be better here!

Inside the Labor Party's slogan hides the claim - which is not necessarily obvious for the main opposition party - that it is good here. The Labor Party's goal, in that case, is only to improve all this good. It is a strategy that reminds one a bit of the decision made by the Maariv newspaper in the 1980s to imitate Yedioth Aharonoth. The assumption then was the same: We will do the same thing, just better. It ended the way it ended, since when you do the same thing, people prefer the original.

Habayit Hayehudi: Brothers and sisters, come home

The campaign manager for Habayit Hayehudi said the use of the word "brother" as a recurring motif popped into his mind when someone told him at a campaign event that Naftali Bennet "is a brother." The word brother was adopted enthusiastically by Bennet since it completes the scenery he wanted to implant into the voter's consciousness: Homey, warm, traditional, Jewish, and filled with brothers and sisters. Of course the truth is colder and less inclusive: Bennet, the former fighter from the Sayaret Matkal commando unit, high tech multi-millionaire who made an exit - is a "brother" only on the condition that you believe Yair Lapid when he calls the social protestors from the summer of 2011 "my brother slaves." This synthetic and purposeful use of a seemingly familiar term mostly reveals the distance of the user from the significance of the word, such as the term the family of Orange workers.

Hatnuah: Hope will conquer fear

The slogan of Tzipi Livni and her Hatnuah Party is simplistic and childish. It assumes that the world is divided into black and white, fear and hope; that Netanyahu is the devil while Livni is an angel. It is a disturbing slogan since it is not intelligent. The fact that it is now an election campaign and there is a need to sharpen the message still does not justify such an infantile analysis of reality. Instead of respecting the logic and judgment of the voter, she is giving the voter the feeling of contempt. The other possibility is that instead of belittling the voter, she really does think the world is so simplistic - and this is even more worrying.

Yesh Atid: We've come to change

Shinui was the party of Tommy Lapid, Yair's father. Shinui means change, and its goal was to restrain the power of the Haredi parties. It did so for a limited time and afterward disappeared. The disappearance was related to the contrarian emotions that motivated it. Just as in every act of rejection, the minute the enemy weakens the opponent also disappears. The difference between Shinui and Yesh Atid is meant to be that Yesh Atid is not only confrontational, but a party with a comprehensive platform, a world view and even the pretensions of ruling one day. But nonetheless, the slogan chosen is "We've come to change," which is like Shinui, only less succinct. The big question about Yesh Atid is what will happen when the emotional motive, the need to change, lessens and the trivial and Sisyphean parliamentary life takes over the present. Does Yesh Atid also have patience? Or does the future of the middle class look like a prime time peak on Channel 2? The answers will come - only after the advertisements.

Eliyahu Hershkovitz