On elections, Hebrew press takes a page from BuzzFeed
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Hebrew Media Review

On elections, Hebrew press takes a page from BuzzFeed

Lists, polls, and of course, opinions give readers more than enough election news to last them the weekend

Jewish Home celebrates the end of its primaries on January 15, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Jewish Home celebrates the end of its primaries on January 15, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

Friday’s Hebrew papers are so full of lists they could be mistaken for a page from Buzzfeed.

But instead of goofy lists (such as weird places to vote on Election Day), these deal with some of the last of the major political parties finalizing their Knesset lists and gearing up for the full-fledged election season.

While some terror-related headlines show up on the front pages, it’s clear that, going into the weekend, the real story is the elections.

Polling day is now just two months away — on March 17 — and the real battle for votes is about to get under way.

1. Who can say the most?

The front-page headline on Yedioth Ahronoth simply reads, “Finalizing the list” and the paper seems to revel in the intensifying campaign atmosphere. The paper has three pages crammed with coverage of the elections, in general, and of the three parties that finalized their lists on Thursday, in particular — Jewish Home; Yisrael Beytenu; and Moshe Kahlon’s new party, Kulanu.

Israel Hayom’s front-page highlights terror raids in Belgium, but it buries the full story on page 9. Between the front page and page nine, the paper packs in the election coverage. In terms of sheer coverage in the Friday papers, Israel Hayom is the clear winner.

But Haaretz also gives the elections a lot of ink. Israel’s Gray Lady gives four full pages to the elections and — boosting its street cred as the paper of the left — it is the only one to cover the imminent primaries of the left-wing party Meretz.

2. Jewish Home’s List

The biggest election news came out of the Jewish Home party, run by Naftali Bennett. Israel Hayom takes a look at the results of its Wednesday primary and the surprise that — in the traditionally religious party — Ayelet Shaked, a secular woman, surged to the third spot on the list behind Bennett and Uri Ariel (who were both assured spots before the primary).

Bennett said of the result: “Two years ago… if you would have told me that first place would go to Ayelet Shaked, a secular woman from Tel Aviv, I wouldn’t have believed you. It just shows we are approaching the day when Jewish Home leads the country.”

3. But is it good for Bennett?

Haaretz’s Chaim Levinson writes that while Bennett may act happy about the results, he shouldn’t be. While Shaked ascended to the top spot, the list is essentially the same as before. Bennett also learned in this primary the limits to how effective his Facebook posts could be. Levinson writes that since Bennett hates inter-party legwork, he didn’t really do any campaigning for the candidates he hoped would win, so now he is stuck with the same faces at the top.

Israel Hayom’s Dan Margalit also analyzes the Jewish Home results and concludes they’re not that great for Bennett in the long-term. Margalit argues that Bennett was hoping that his party would show itself as religious and traditional — with an element of secularism. However, Shaked’s victory makes Jewish Home broadly right-wing, both religious and secular, but unfortunately for Bennett there’s already a party that has those qualities: Likud.

4. Liberman’s list

Jewish Home wasn’t the only party to finalize its Knesset list on Thursday; Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s embattled Yisrael Beytenu did so too — but not by a vote of members. As Yedioth reports, the list, which was set by Liberman himself, puts Orly Levy-Abekasis in the second spot in place of the current No. 2, Yair Shamir.

Liberman said that Levy-Abekasis achieved such a top spot because she is the Knesset member who has the most experience with social justice. Shamir, the outgoing minister of agriculture, however, is expected to announce his resignation from politics — deeply discomfited by the ongoing corruption scandal surrounding numerous senior figures in the party.

5. The new kid on the block

Moshe Kahlon and his new Kulanu party also presented its slate; there are some big names in the top few spots. Yedioth prints the list, which has Kahlon at the helm, followed by former IDF general Yoav Galant, journalist and community activist Tsega Melaku, and, in the fourth spot, former ambassador to the US Michael Oren.

Israel Hayom writes that what was unique about the announcement of the list was that, for the first time, there was enthusiasm for the party. In his speech, Kahlon took aim at his opponents: “The Likud abandoned us, Yair Lapid disappointed us, it’s time for a new path.”

6. Who’s in first?

In addition to all the news and commentary, new polls were released from all three TV stations (channels 1, 2, and 10), which showed a change in the pecking order. Yedioth reports that all three polls found that Labor/Hatnua leads Likud by 1-3 seats. In third place is Jewish Home, then Yesh Atid, Kulanu, and Yisrael Beytenu. The Israeli-Arab parties are expected to get 11-12 seats.

7. Yawns on the far left

Finishing off its election coverage, Haaretz is the only paper to give space to the left-wing party Meretz and its looming primary on January 19. The reason the other papers aren’t covering the party may have less to do with ideology and more to do with lack of news concerning the Meretz primaries.

As Haaretz explains, the only real battle will be to see who takes over Nitzan Horowitz’s third spot on the list, after his announcement that he was retiring from politics.

8. Sibling political rivalry

Jewish Home politician Uri Orbach won the sixth spot on the party’s list, but when it’s time for general elections not everyone in his family will support him. Yedioth reports that Orbach’s sister, Ahinoam Orbach, who describes herself as a religious lesbian, is against her brother’s party for its hostile stance on same-sex marriage.

In a Facebook post, she asked, “If [Jewish Home] candidates state that a family is only a husband, wife, and kids and there isn’t anything else… if any of these actually exist, why won’t they refuse to receive salaries that include taxes from these families?” No answer from her brother, but — as the paper also points out — Orbach is a Likud member, so she may have been doing a bit of electioneering herself.

9. Lone soldiers and election workers?

Finally, Israel Hayom reports that the elections commission is trying to finalize a plan with the Israel Defense Forces to allow lone soldiers to assist at the polls on Election Day. The goal is to have those soldiers who serve in the IDF — but have no family in the country — as well as servicemen who are in need of financial assistance to work at the polling stations for the day and earn about 1,100 shekels (about $280). This might not sound like much, but it’s approximately double what normal soldiers earn in a month.

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