That brings us to the attacks on the other members of the Jewish Home party’s list. Of course, members of a party should stand up to public scrutiny. One of the great flaws of Israeli politics is that most Members of Knesset never face public exposure, they compete in internal party primaries or are chosen by central committees or leadership councils. When people vote for a list they typically don’t know much about most candidates of that party’s list. This election’s Jewish Home party is an excellent example of that phenomenon. Over the last primaries and merger with the National Union there was a clean sweep of candidates. Orlev and Hershkowitz, whom the public had come to know were ejected, and three of the four members of the National Union’s Knesset faction left the party. Who will potentially comprise the Jewish Home’s Knesset faction is mystery to the public and the public has a right to know. And, as these people are candidates, other parties have a right to criticize them.
So the attacks on the list in this election spot are not inherently unfair.The question remains as to what was said about each candidate mentioned in the advertisement.
“Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan number four on the Jewish Home’s list called for the removal of the committee on the status of women.” In a television appearance next to MK Tzipi Hotovely, Ayelet Shaked claimed that Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan had not called to cancel the Knesset committee on the status of women, but had called for its merger with the committee on children’s right to create a committee on the family.
The Likud attack here was fair because practically Dahan called to get rid of two committees and create another. This would subjugate the entire issue of women to the category of the family. The entire point of the Committee on the Advancement of the Status of Women is a recognition that the status of women is a separate and special issue that needs its own committee. Women are mothers, but they are not only mothers and don’t want to be treated only as such. Getting rid of the women’s status committee does exactly that. There is nothing in Judaism that says women’s only role in society should be in the home. The view that Dahan presented with his proposal is not accepted by most Israelis or even members of the national religious community and should be exposed to the public.
“Orit Struck, number ten, who called for levy a legal price tag from IDF commanders and the police.” I’m not sure of the context of this statement, but there is nothing wrong with extracting a legal price tag. In fact, in a society ruled by law, a legal price tag should be extracted for any state action against the citizen – this results in state officials thinking twice before they do something that is potentially illegal by first checking with their legal advisers. It also ensures that a court oversees what has happened and corrects any injustice that occurs. Going to court over state actions against the citizen as much as possible is not only legitimate but it is the tactic used by all civil rights organizations in all democracies.
The “price tag” reference, however, could be problematic, depending on the context of the statement. To publicly approve of the price tag acts – which are not disobedience, but simply youth expressing their frustration at the expense of other people’s property – is not correct. For a private person to say something like this is another story, but for a public person to talk loosely and legitimize such illegal acts which hurt the public perception of residents of Judea and Samaria is a strike against them in deciding whether to put that person in the Knesset.
While people have a right to know that Struck is part of the battle against evictions and expulsion – in fact this could help the Jewish Home list – the ad is unfair in that it takes advantage of the fact that the public will pay more attention to the ‘price tag’ part of the comment. But then again a public figure should be careful not to lend legitimacy to the price tag attacks.
“Moti Yogev, number nine, that led the separation between boys and girls in Bnei Akiva.” It could be claimed that this is just Judaism. That would depend on the extent of the separation and what sect of Orthodox Judaism you fall into. But certainly their is a trend towards separation of the sexes that has many negative affects on society, contributing toward viewing women as homemakers or sexual objects. It also correlates to a rise in a campaign of ignorance in which science – the study of God’s creation – is viewed as anti-religious and towards educating whole segments of society not to earn a living but instead to live off of society. If a candidate is someone who is contributing to that, then people have a right to know and make a decision. An attack ad in and of itself can never fully discuss the issue or the candidate’s role in it, but Yogev and the Jewish Home have the opportunity to respond.