Israeli Elections: The Battle of the Signs


Israeli voters are being bombarded by an array of signs, posters and billboards ahead of the March 17 elections.

BEERSHEVA, Israel — A horde of political advertisements has invaded Israeli billboards, buses and institutions. The ads form a multicolored montage reminiscent of medieval armies gathered underneath banners of war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hawkish Likud, and Isaac Herzog’s center-left Zionist Union, the two leading parties in the buildup to the March 17 elections, have both unleashed opposing campaigns of “us versus them,” in an attempt to shore up votes that might stray to smaller parties. Essentially, the ads argue, a vote that doesn’t go to Likud — and is cast instead, for example, toward Jewish Home, a fellow right-wing group — goes to the Zionist Camp. Alternatively Zionist Camp posters instruct that votes going to fellow leftist or centrist parties such as Yesh Atid or Meretz, really end up in the hands of Likud. 

Shas has unveiled ads urging its voting base not to abandon the party in its first election since the passing of Shas’ longtime spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. The group that has been the voice of the Orthodox Sephardic community since its establishment in 1984 is also trying to regroup in the wake of the departure of former chairman Eli Yishai, who left the party last December to found a new political faction called Maran.

Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu Party, following its split with Likud that led to the deterioration of the last coalition and the launching of the current elections, has gone back to its roots by targeting its campaign at its Russian voting base with a series of Russian-language banners.

The far-left group Meretz has posted billboards and ads stating that it represents the true left, as opposed to the more popular and centrist Zionist Union. At the other end of the spectrum, Jewish Home, under the direction of Naftali Bennett, is claiming that “Something new is beginning” — as long as you vote for his party,  of course.

Yesh Atid, under the leadership of Yair Lapid, launched a series of posters proclaiming that his party is fighting for — and on behalf — of the state.

In most of the ads, the party political heads are featured, some looking stern with arms crossed, others smiling, all staring straight back at the viewer as if to say, “We’re watching you.”

In any event, for anyone in Israel who might be trying to tune out of the elections taking place on Tuesday, all they need to do is step outside and the elections will be brought to them — like it or not.

Exponent Multimedia Reporter Amishai Gottlieb is in Israel this week.  To view some of the election banners and ads, click on the media icon at the top right of the screen.


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