Israel election ads hold no surprises

Slide show

May 10, 1996
Web posted at: 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT)

From Correspondent Jerrold Kessel

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- With only three weeks to go until the Israeli elections, the opposing political parties sought to home in on the critical undecided voters in their first state-funded political campaign ads.

The official advertisements, which are scheduled to run nightly until the May 29 elections, are the only way candidates can speak or be shown in the media in the remaining weeks of the campaign. A 1950s law, aimed at preventing media bias, bans their voices and pictures in regular broadcasts.

Analysts said that so far, the spots were boring and predictable. (689K QuickTime movie)

"Very few voters are the target audience right now. They are talking about a very tight race, tighter than they might admit. The so called floating votes are few and they are trying to get them," said Professor Akiba Cohen of Hebrew University.


In the all-important drive for the undecided and first-time voters, the campaigns for the opposing Labor and Likud parties are remarkably similar despite the parties' distinct views of the future and the Middle East peace process.

In the ads, both parties use the national colors and almost the same slogans. Peace and security are the dominant twin themes.

Advertisements for current Prime Minister Shimon Peres, 72, of the Labor party, relied on images of his assassinated predecessor Yitzhak Rabin and presented Peres as a patriarch. (153K AIFF sound or 153K WAV sound)

Peres Netanyahu

The Lukid opposition party ads show candidate Benjamin Netanyahu, 47, as a yuppie figure and attempt to play on Israeli fears that Peres will give away Israeli land by showing pictures of him with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. (816K QuickTime movie)

In the ad, Netanyahu discounts arguments that he cannot deliver peace and compares himself to former Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

"Menachem Begin brought the first secure peace. I'll bring the next one," Netanyahu says. (196K AIFF sound or 196K WAV sound)

Social scientists aren't willing to predict how the nightly television campaigning will affect the new voters and the undecided voters who could be the decisive factor in who wins. But many viewers -- even those who are already sure how they'll cast their ballots -- are enjoying the political programs as refreshing entertainment.


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