The first pre-elections television ads aired on Tuesday night. The Otzma Leyisrael party had to make do with showing just part of its ads after the Elections Committee ruled that the ads “were intended to depict the Arab sector in Israel as not fulfilling its civil obligations.”
The ad opens with the question, “How much do you pay in city taxes?” The words that were meant to follow, “In Sakhnin, not everyone knows what city tax is,” were replaced with a dark screen.
The next question, “What about paying income tax according to the law?” was again followed by a dark screen rather than the original line, “In eastern Jerusalem, there are those who spit on the law.”
In his decision to censor the ad, Elections Committee head Justice Elyakim Rubenstein compared the party’s approach to that of anti-Semites abroad. “Parts of this ad are almost certain to offend the sensibilities of the Arab public, and also of Jews who were used, and are still used, as a target for ethnic persecution in various parts of the world,” he wrote.
The ad portrays the Arab public alone as not fulfilling its obligations to the state, he said.
Sources in the party expressed anger at the decision. “Rubenstein was looking for a way to censor us,” they accused. They noted that Rubenstein had originally decided to censor the ads for including the Arabic phrase, “There are no rights without obligations,” but turned to target other parts of the ad after realizing that the offending phrase appeared in Hebrew, as well.
What the ads said “was legitimate and true,” they argued. The party will file an appeal, they said.
A Shas ad also caused a stir Tuesday night by portraying a Russian-Israeli bride receiving a faxed certificate of conversion to Judaism while standing under the chuppah (marriage canopy). There have been calls to ban the ad for insulting Israelis of Russian origin.