A Breakdown of Israeli Campaign Ads

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For a refresher on what is happening and how the Israeli electoral system works, see here. And for a refresher on the biggest issues this time around, click here.

Campaign Ads

What does each party’s campaign ad say about the Israeli political scene and public discourse in 2020? Play these videos for your students and use the discussion questions and classroom tips to unpack them. Because the ads are in Hebrew, we have summarized them briefly for you below.

This list is in order of number of projected Knesset seats (as of February 20th).

  1. Kachol Lavan (Blue-White): This ad focuses on the strong “shoulders” of Benny Gantz, how much responsibility they have successfully held (e.g., as IDF Chief of Staff) and how the next responsibility is the biggest of them all, leading the state of Israel. The ad ends with Kachol Lavan’s tagline “We must move forward.”
  2. Likud: This ad asks the question why some people have decided to oppose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at all costs. A diverse group of Israelis describe the many accomplishments of the prime minister and explain why they support him.
  3. Joint List: This ad is called “your voice against racism.” They show audio and words of multiple examples of what they describe as racism against Arabs. They do this by presenting a backdrop of diverse looking Arab Israeli citizens.
  4. Labor-Meretz-Gesher: This ad is called “a small ballot for big hope.” The ad explains that to achieve hope, one needs to vote for the party in order to get transportation, healthcare, education, peace – and to protect Benny Gantz from the right-wing leaders.
  5. Shas: This ad (from the previous election) shows what Shabbat could look like in a government led by Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz, and Avigdor Lieberman. In the ad, an older man returns home from synagogue on Shabbat to greet his wife and, to his shock and dismay, all of his children and grandchildren are out at work, at a party, and even at government offices.
  6. United Torah Judaism: This ad tries to demonstrate how during the Oslo Accords of the mid-1990s, the UTJ party was guided by the leading Ashkenazi rabbis of the time, who instructed their followers not to cede any of the land of Israel and never to sit with the left. The final slogan of the ad reads: “It’s Judaism or nothing.”
  7. Yisrael Beiteinu: This ad is an attack on prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and party leader Avigdor Lieberman portrays him as someone who has capitulated to the Arab community in Israel too often. The controversial slogan at the end reads: “Bibi is good for the Arabs. On March 2, we’re putting an end to that.”
  8. Yamina: The title of the ad reads, “This is what happens when we’re not strong enough – Gush Katif,” with images and sounds from the Disengagement from the Jewish communities of the Gaza Strip in 2005. The slogan at the end of the ad reads: “Only a strong Yamina will protect the home.”

Campaign Ad Discussion Questions

After viewing these ads, answer the following questions:

  1. There seems to be a significant amount of negative campaigning, what people refer to as “attack ads.” If effective, do you think it should be done, or do you think the leaders of the Jewish state should be above this rhetorical approach?
  2. What feelings do these campaign videos evoke for you – Pride? Hope? Fear? Trust? Contempt? What feelings do you think the videos aim to stir in people, and what do they actually make you feel?
  3. After watching the various campaign ads, which party did you most identify with and why?

Practical Classroom Tips

  1. To understand many of the issues and where each party stands on them, utilize these resources from Makom
  2. Share the following link from Israel Policy Forum with your students and scroll down to “Party Quiz” to take a fun quiz to determine which Israeli political party their views align with. Discuss the results in class.
  3. Watch this video from the iCenter utilize the questions found below.
  4. Use this educational tool from Heterodox Academy to help your students engage in viewpoint diversity in a healthy way. 
    • Each student should pick a party/idea they feel passionate about.
    • Each student should then interview someone in the group with whom they strongly disagree.
    • The interviewer should then ask clarifying questions to the interviewee. 
    • The interviewer can ask probing questions.
    • The interviewer will then write a short reflection on the interviewee’s perspectives and how they internalized the interviewee’s perspective. 
  5. Utilize our previous weekly in order to run a mock election with your students.

Wisdom from the Field

We asked some of our Unpacked for Educators partner schools their best advice for teaching the Israeli elections. Here is a small sample from the best and brightest in the field.

Phil Jacobs – Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School – Baltimore:

I spend a great deal of time comparing the Israeli system to the American system. And I am surprised to learn how little these American students know of how their own political system is structured. I also use a model called “Middle Ground,” which is found on YouTube. I set up four chairs in the middle of the room, two facing two. The students are then asked a difficult question. One set of two students is pro, the other set of students argues against.

Menachem Hecht – YULA Girls – Los Angeles:

[First of all], Elections are rowdy. Make it fun! We’ve taken classes in Ivrit or Jewish History, divided up the students, and assigned them in small groups to create poster boards for a party using particular rubrics (include a slogan, include a logo, include a picture of the party leader, include 3 elements of the party platform, etc.). Then we’ve had them hang their poster boards on a hallway in the school. Creating a voting station in some visible place in the school, with a list of parties and party platforms and party leaders, is something we’ve seen a lot and done a few times.  Another interesting approach we’ve taken is to have a student-moderated “news show” for the school, where 2-3 students will be interviewed about the political parties and some of the major election issues.  We’ve also done a school assembly where we’ve shown a bunch of actual campaign ads from each of the major parties and used the ads as a lens to talk about the issues. That’s been pretty fun as well.

Michal Ilai – The Weber School – Atlanta

My classroom has a door sign that reads: מרחב בטוח or Safe Space, and I often reiterate the rules of our class: there are no wrong answers and everyone must be respectful toward each other. At times, I have had to stop the lesson and remind students of the adherence to Klal Yisroel – to the notion that we each have our own experiences and may practice differently, but we all share the same collective memory.  We [also] asked the students to make a list of the most important issues to them in the election (security, economy, Haredim in the military, etc). We then asked them to form a government with a 61 majority while at times being forced to forgo issues of importance. I believe the students saw how challenging it may be. 

In Other News:

  1. Due to the coronavirus, El Al is set to cancel its much anticipated direct flights from Tel Aviv to Tokyo, slated to begin on March 11. In the meantime, Israel has created the “coronavirus hotline” as the fear of the epidemic continues to spread in Israel and around the world.
  2. The Israeli entrepreneur Inna Braverman, CEO of Eco Wave Power, won a UN Climate Action award for her work, which aims to generate clean energy from the ocean.
  3. Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz will have some competition on election day in Israel on March 2. Lionel Richie will make his debut performance in the country that evening, right before the exit polls are presented on television.

Noam Weissman

Dr. Noam Weissman is Senior Vice President at OpenDor Media. He leads the education vision and implementation at OpenDor Media with a special focus on the development of meaningful content and resources for students and educators. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology from USC with a focus on curriculum design.

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