New Netanyahu kindergarten ad may breach election law
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New Netanyahu kindergarten ad may breach election law

Campaign video features PM playing responsible adult in classroom of misbehaving kids named for his political rivals

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party released a campaign video Saturday portraying his political rivals as kindergarten children, with Netanyahu playing the role of responsible adult. But the video quickly came under fire for apparently violating campaign regulations barring parties from using children under the age of 15 in ads.

The Likud party headquarters responded by saying the ad, which was posted on YouTube on Saturday and screened on Channel 2 news on Saturday night, hadn’t been approved for broadcast.

“Unfortunately, because of a technical error, the video reached the Internet even though it wasn’t approved for publication or broadcast by the public relations staff of the Likud party,” the Likud party said in a statement.

Yitzhak Kadman, head of the Israel National Council for the Child, said the video was in violation of the law. “Tomorrow we’ll file a complaint with the chairman of the central elections committee,” he said Saturday night.

In the ad, Netanyahu appears in a kindergarten inhabited by rambunctious children who caricature his former and current coalition allies in the outgoing Knesset: Hatnua’s Tzipi Livni, Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett, Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman. Notably absent is opposition leader and Labor Party leader Isaac Herzog.

“Children calm down, we’re not getting anything done today,” Netanyahu says as the kids scamper around pestering one another.

“Evet,” he says, calling Liberman by his Russian first name, “you must learn to share with other children.”

A child dressed up to look like Lapid pokes another dressed like Bennett, who responds “uch” — meant to sound like the Hebrew term for brother which was the catchphrase of the two leaders’ ad hoc alliance following the 2013 elections.

Netanyahu then scolds the children — his political rivals — for their misbehavior. “Yair, stop playing with that, you’ll break it,” Netanyahu calls to a young Lapid look-alike who’s rattling an abacus, in a clear allusion to the latter’s stint as finance minister.

“Yair and Naftali, stop fighting over the chair,” he says, referring to their alliance-turned-rivalry.

“Tzipi, stop running from place to place,” Netanyahu says, referring to Livni’s drift from party to party in recent years, from Likud to Kadima to Hatnua and now to a union with the Labor Party. Livni gets special attention with a closing, “Enough, Tzipi” from Netanyahu.

“It’s a waste of time, we can’t continue with this kindergarten,” he says, wrapping up the clip.

“In order to run a country, you need a strong and stable government,” Netanyahu declares in closing. “Vote Likud for a change in the system.”

Netanyahu last week said his party would push for new legislation mandating that the Knesset’s largest party would form the government, instead of having the president select the party most capable of forming a stable coalition.

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