Viral videos trending in Israel election 2015

With only seven weeks before Israeli voters hit the ballot boxes, election fever has reached a fever pitch.

There are a number of ways in which the 2015 election feels different from previous years, but certainly one of the biggest trends is the use of social media. While it was once a tradition that only in the final days prior to the election Israeli TV stations would air non-stop campaign ads from each of the parties, YouTube and Facebook has since rendered this practice obsolete. Viral marketing, first employed by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid in advance of the 2013 elections, is now a must for any seriously contender.

Not every party has released a video as of yet, but there is still a long way to go.

Here is a list of some of the most widely viewed so far. I am not going to give a line by line translation, just a brief synopsis. As you will see for yourself, most are self explanatory.

The first two videos are for Naftali Bennett and the Habayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) Party. Bennett is a rising star in this election season and his party is projected by Project 61 to receive 15 seats in the Knesset, which would make it the third largest. Part of his campaign has been about Israel being unapologetic for her actions, and in the first video he himself plays a protagonist who is constantly apologizing for wrongdoings he hasn’t committed.

Many of Bennett’s biggest supporters come from the Israeli right, including citizens who live in the West Bank. But in order for his party to grow, he needs to attract voters from the political and geographic center of the country. In this second video, two Tel Aviv women chat about Bennett’s many accomplishments during his first stint in politics (where he functioned as Economy Minister). “He is so industrious,” one of the women admits, “but he is a Righty.” Such self-deprecating humor, which can be found in both ads, is a smart way for a young politician like Bennett to endear himself to those who find most politicians out of touch with popular culture.

Speaking of which, both of Israel’s left of center parties have decided to employ music as a way to galvanize the masses. First, Meretz put out this bouncy number:

Featuring all of its party candidates dancing and singing at a wedding, the opening lines begin, “Don’t be discouraged, don’t be shy, just don’t say that we will live with the status quo…I want Meretz in the government, we’ll rebuild a wonderful country here.”

The biggest center-left party, also known as the Zionist Camp (a merger of Isaac Herzog’s Labor Party and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua), and currently projected to earn the largest number of seats in March, decided to leap back in for this next video, which is a play off the 1977 hit “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” (quite popular in Israel). Herzog still faces an uphill battle to dethrone Netanyahu, and this video leaves much to be desired. In fact, it appears the only reason why this video was produced is because the word boogie sounds like Herzog’s nickname, “Buji”. In the song, Herzog is called a nerd lacking muscles, although admittedly it continues by saying he is the right man for the job.

It is also interesting that “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie” was released the same year as Labor’s historic loss to Menachem Begin, known in Israel as המהפך, or “the reversal”. A simple irony, perhaps?

Shas, a religious Mizrahi party that has long championed the rights of the underprivileged, aired this video, where liberal, middle class Israelis are seen complaining about the state of the country as they rudely treat those in the service industry or seeking help (intentionally made to appear semi-invisible). “How do middle class problems stack up against those of the lower classes?” the video seems to ask.

Yesh Atid has also produced two videos, with mixed results. This first follows a more standard campaign message: in the previous coalition, only one party does not have members of Knesset who are being criminally investigated. Guess who, Yesh Atid.

However, the second clip has garnered more controversy:

In its two years in politics, Yesh Atid has been a strong advocate for gender equality. The scantily clad men, holding various livestock, are apparently trying to convey that message. However, even members of the party protested its release. Aliza Lavie, chairman of the Knesset Committee for the Equality of Women, told NRG that the video “has no added value on all the achievements Yesh Atid has on advancing women…this clip does not tell the story.” It is generally not a good sign when your entire party isn’t on board.

Of course, mudslinging is an ingrained part of Israeli politics. It was predictable that viral campaigns would also include incendiary material like this promotion of Likud MK Danny Danon, which praises his cowboy machismo in muzzling controversial Arab-Israeli MK Hanin Zoabi in a manner than belittles Arabs as much as it promotes Mr. Danon’s cause.

No video collection would be complete without the most controversial video of all.

Netanyahu, the great political mastermind, is saddled with the task of overseeing the “childish” Bennett, Livni, and Lapid, depicted as little kids running around and making a mess. “This is a waste of time,” the incumbent prime minister says to the camera, “it’s impossible to continue with this kindergarten.” Last week the Central Elections Committee banned the video for violating regulations which forbid the use of children below the age of 15.

Posted on by Gabriel in Israel