Newsletter : 6fax0514.txt
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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan
May 14, 1996 V4, #88
All the News the Big Guys Missed
Campaigning On Israel TV
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
An unusual set of rules is giving the Israeli media a central, but
limited, role in the campaign for the country's May 29 election.
The pictures and voices of candidates may not be broadcast on radio
or television, except in special political advertisements. The
radio ads may be broadcast any time. But the television ads are
all broadcast together, one after the other, for 30 to 45-minutes
Rousing music and patriotic images are the main features of
Israel's political advertisements, not so different from other
places, as a song from the National Religious Party, accompanied by
pictures of happy children and soldiers in traditional kippot. The
advertisements also include a measure of criticism for opposing
parties, some personal image building for the candidates, and some
discussion of the issues.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu began his party's series of
advertisements with a brief speech delivered from a setting
reminiscent of the Israeli Prime Minister's office -- an office
he hopes will be his own next month. Netanyahu accused the
current government of seeking an unrealistic version of peace,
with security in the hands of Israel's neighbors. He promised to
pursue a different policy, in which he said, security would be at
the heart of peace and controlled exclusively by Israel.
Netanyahu's Likud Party jingle, repeated more than 10 times some
evenings, says "Netanyahu, making a secure peace." But while Likud
has added an emphasis on peace to its usual theme of security, the
ruling Labor Party has added an emphasis on security to its usual
theme of peace.
In the Labor Party song, beautifully groomed young people in white
shirts implore Prime Minister Shimon Peres to "lead us in security
and assure him-- we continue to believe that this is the way and we
are all with you."
Peres speaks to them of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and
says their policy will bring the future the young people want.
The Labor Party's advertisements have used Rabin's image
extensively. Its first commercial opened with film of Rabin on the
night he won the 1992 election. Peres did not appear until
The Israeli system keeps candidates off television and radio for
21-days before an election, except for the special advertisements.
It was designed to prevent the government from abusing the airwaves
of state-run radio and television.
Until this election, such political advertisements were just about
the only thing Israelis could watch on television for about an hour
every evening during an election campaign. But now, there are many
privately-owned radio stations, a new private television station,
and tens-of-thousands of homes with cable television offering more
than 40 stations from around the world.
The parties are meeting the challenge of new competition by trying
to make the political ads required viewing for anyone interested in
the political process. This has led the parties to be more
critical of each other in the ads, sometimes through humor, and
generally to try to become the subject of the next day's popular
radio talk shows. Labor got some attention for an ad it ran
depicting Netanyahu as a nesting doll, with changing faces on each
successively smaller doll. Likud lashed out at Peres, showing him
holding hands with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and saying their
partnership is dangerous for Israel's future.
The time for the political advertisements is given for free, with
the amount of time determined by the size of each party, but
production costs millions of dollars.
Pollsters say all but about 7 percent of Israeli voters have
already made up their minds. But the polls also indicate Peres
leads Netanyahu by just 4 or 5 percent in the race for Prime
Minister, and the makeup of parliament is expected to be equally
close to an even split. So a few percent of the voters can be
Rabbinical Student Slain; Another Wounded
By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)
Gunmen in a car on the West Bank shot and killed one Israeli
rabbinical student and seriously wounded another Monday. The two
students were waiting at a bus stop just outside the Israeli
settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank town of Ramallah.
Witnesses say the gunmen appeared to be Palestinians and fled
toward a refugee camp.
A few minutes earlier, the same gunmen fired at a bus carrying
Israeli settlers, but the bullets did not penetrate the bus'
armor and bulletproof glass. Two people were slightly injured
when the driver slammed on the brakes.
The May 29 elections pit Prime Minister Shimon Peres and his
peace policy against opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his
promises to bring about a more secure peace. On Monday, the
mother of one of the victims blamed the shooting on Peres and
said she hopes his name, and the entire current government, are
blotted from history.
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