Surprising Israeli election commercials (with English subtitles)
Makom Israel has provided YouTube videos of some Israeli political television commercials for the upcoming parliamentary election. The videos even come with optional English subtitles (you may need to click on the “CC” image in the lower control bar of the video). On the YouTube page, there is a “more info” link that provides background.
This is my first time seeing Israeli video commercials, and I was rather shocked by many of them – I was particularly shocked by the “Shas” commercial which is a blatant appeal to racist bigotry (claiming that the current government is freely “giving away” Jewish conversions to Russian immigrants of Jewish descent who are culturally Jewish but not technically Jewish under Orthodox rabbinic law.) It features a tall blonde Russian immigrant “Marina” who cannot speak Hebrew correctly (and who mixes Russian phrases her Hebrew) dialing a toll free STAR-CONVERSION number to get a faxed conversion certificate.
This fits in with the theme of Shas party leader Arye Deri that the current ruling coalition is a party of “Russians and whites.” By “whites,” Deri using an offensive term for Ashkenazi Jews (generally, Jews of northern or Eastern European descent) – Shas is appealing for a Sephardic Jewish (generally, Jews of Spanish or Middle Eastern descent) vote.
I can hardly imagine this racism so explicitly stated in a television commercial.
(On googling further, I see that this advertisement was withdrawn today “for the sake of peace” after a formal request from the official election committee for the State of Israel.)
The “Pirate Party” (which advocates for Knesset [parliament] members who will vote as directed to by Internet polls) and “Green Leaf” (which advocates for legalization of marijuana) commercials are upsetting in a completely different way.
“The Movement” [Ha-tnua] commercial (which advocates for the only female candidate for prime minister) is the only one that talks about negotiations with Palestinians (and is even so daring as to show a picture of its prime minister candidate Tzipi Livni with Barak Obama.)