Election committee bans Balad, far-right party ads

Arab party’s radio spot — with ‘Hatikva’ sung to Arabic tune — said to ridicule the national anthem

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Balad MK Hanin Zoabi (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Balad MK Hanin Zoabi (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Central Elections Committee on Monday invalidated the Arab-Israeli Balad party’s radio advertisement in which it parodies right-wing party members who sing “Hatikva,” the national anthem, with an Arabic tune.

Committee chairman Elyakim Rubinstein said the Arab party’s campaign ad ridiculed the national anthem and that insulting national icons is unacceptable in election campaigns.

Balad responded by saying the ruling marked the continuation of a silencing and intimidation campaign against the party’s constituency.

Rubinstein also ruled that the Otzma Leyisrael (Power to Israel) party could not broadcast the phrase “Not an Arab country, not a country of infiltrators” in its campaign ad. He notified the party that he was considering banning another part of the ad, in which the far right-wing party’s members say in Arabic, “No rights without obligations.”

Otzma Leyisrael’s response was that its statements were legitimate, and their erasure would harm free expression.

The first Israeli election campaign ads are set for broadcast on radio and television stations on Tuesday.

Unlike in the US, radio and television ads in Israel are highly regulated, with each registered party getting time partly based on how many seats it holds in the outgoing Knesset.

Each list will receive seven minutes of TV airtime nightly, and 15 minutes on the radio.

Parties with representatives in the current Knesset will receive a bonus of two minutes of television airtime for each MK.

The commercials are to be aired in a bloc. The broadcasts on Israel’s Channel 1 will be held at 10 p.m., on Channel 2 at 11:20 p.m., and on Channel 10 at 6 p.m.

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