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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 every evening.

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 30-seconds later.

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 important.

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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