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Environmentalists Won't Stop 'Choking Child' Shock Phone Calls

Israel's Green Party is refusing to halt its 'shock campaign,' in which a choking child is heard pleading for an end to air pollution
By David Lev
First Publish: 1/21/2013, 9:21 PM

Air pollution in Tel Aviv
Air pollution in Tel Aviv
Flash90

Israel's Green Party, which is running on a platform of demanding a cleaner environment, has refused to halt its “shock campaign” tactics, despite an order to do so by the Central Election Committee, after hundreds of Israelis complained about a random phone call made by the party using an automatic phone dialer.

In the call, voters hear the voice of a child appealing for an end to air pollution in order to preserve the world for future generations. During the course of the phone call, the child starts coughing, until the point where it sounds as if he is choking. A second, adult voice then comes on, demanding that voters choose the Green Party to prevent the death and disease air pollution causes in children.

Hundreds of Israelis complained to election officials, who called in Green Party leaders for a hearing, and presented them with a demand that they cease and desist from making calls and playing the recording. But party leaders said they would not comply, and that the phone calls would continue Monday night and throughout the day Tuesday, election day.

In its reply, the Green Party said that there was no law against using a recording of this kind in their campaign, nor was there a law against making phone calls, even if they were automatically generated. “The law pertains to billboards and ads in the electronic media,” the party said in its response to the Election Commission's demands.

In addition, the party said that “shock tactics” were very appropriate in this situation. “Statistics show that 1,100 people die annually from air pollution in the Tel Aviv area, and that 28,000 children are hospitalized annually for medical issues related to poor air quality. In addition, 26,000 Israelis contract cancer annually,” with many of the cases no doubt due to air pollution.”