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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Campaign Ad Adversity

I posted a while back about an apparent campaign promise made during a campaign rally by Rav Ovadyah Yosef that a vote for Shas earns the voter a place in heaven. Subsequently, that campaign promise was made into a television advertisement by the political party:
During the Shas ad, footage is shown of Rabbi Ovadia addressing enthused followers showing a Shas rally.

Rabbi Ovadia told his listeners about a man who reaches heavens and fears God's verdict. At that point, a white angel appears and tells the man he is heading to heaven for building a mikvah (Jewish ritual bath) and a synagogue. The man says he has not done any of that because he had no money, but later admits he did vote for Shas.

The angel's reply: "Exactly. And by sending emissaries who built mikvahs and synagogues and safeguarded the world of Torah, you're a party to mitvzot and your place is in heaven." Therefore, the rabbi explained, anyone who votes for Shas will end up in heaven.
The ad was then banned for broadcast by an Israeli judge, who made the decision based on her opinion that the ad contained "banned content". This quote from the JPost gives the most information on what evidence Judge Beinish based her ruling - and it's pretty scant information at that:
On Saturday evening, Shas, whose election ads have also stirred up controversy, decided to pull one of its campaign ads following Beinish's Friday ruling that the promo violated the laws governing election propaganda by promising anyone who voted for Shas a place in heaven.

Which would seem to mean she is saying it is "propaganda" because it is patently untrue, in her opinion. And though I can understand her skepticism, I'm not sure why she would want to base a ruling on her opinion that the claim can't be true. I guess the alternative would have been to ban the broadcast because they were handing out bribes in exchange for a vote - and that would imply that the campaign promise has some merit.

In addition, some of the articles imply that the spot was canceled only after an extremely inflammatory spot put out by the political party Shinui was ordered by the same judge to be taken off the air:
A few days ago, Judge Beinish banned an ad by Shas' biggest rival, Shinui, in which a secular person is seen walking towards a poll, with ultra-Orthodox men grasping his legs. After the man votes for Shinui, the religious figures disappear one after the other.

The elections committee said that the Shinui ad was banned "because their content severely offended the ultra-Orthodox public, and also constitute an inappropriate offense to the sensitivities of the general public."
Which I would agree with. The question is, where to draw the line when it comes to government censorship of political ads? In the second case, I think many would agree that the ad was inflammatory, offensive and anti-Orthodox. In the first case, I don't think it's so clear.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

...and I suppose the alternative in a fully free country (ie- the U.S.) would be to allow both ads to air. If the Shas & Shinui voters take the ads literally, so be it. And if we choose to ridicule both ads, again, so be it.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Shas ad was also offensive and anti-Orthodox so it could be banned for the exact same reasons.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't see how the Shas one was "anti-Orthodox" - it was very pro-Orthodox, which is far different. However, there's no real substance to the Shas ad except for what basically amounts to a campaign promise that one won't know if they'll get for a long time - but OTOH, why is that any different than any other campaign promise? :)

4:24 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

but OTOH, why is that any different than any other campaign promise? :)

That's exactly what I'm saying. The only reason I can think to ban the ad was either that it was definitely true, or defintely untrue. Not sure how to prove it as either, which makes it - as you said - like any other campaign promise. The Shinui ad, on the other hand, was genuinely offensive to a segment of the population.

4:34 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

The Shas ad was banned because there is an election law that bans ads that promise, among other things, "b'rachot", blessings. You can't promise someione financial or spiritual gain for voting. Now, we all know this is stupid mainly because it means that secular judges believe then that there must be a G-d. It is sort of circular reasoning. The Shinui ad was degrading as it had silly-looking Chariedim jumping on to the legs of a secular person "weighing" him down.

7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My favorite Election season quote so far was from Shas...what does AMALEK stand for?

Avodah (Labor)

It sounds more like something out of a comedy show than an election...

11:51 AM  
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