Israeli campaign videos: The good, the bad and the bizarre

Ben Sales

Israeli election season is underway, and for the hundreds of candidates vying for Knesset seats, it’s never too early to leave a unique impression on the minds of Israeli voters.

Israeli election law keeps political TV spots pretty restrained — parties are only allowed to show a limited number of ads a few weeks before the election — but that hasn’t stopped individual candidates, running in party primaries, from putting their own videos on social media.

Here’s a sampling of the most delightful, controversial and strange among what’s graced Israelis’ screens so far. Because the only major parties holding primaries before the election are the right-wing Likud and the pro-settler Jewish Home parties, all of the videos have similar political slants. But that hasn’t stopped candidates from marshaling everyone from Superman to Vito Corleone of “The Godfather” in their defense.

So enjoy this taste of Israel’s political scene. And if you want more, don’t worry — the election is still two and a half months away.

1. Naftali Bennett, the hipster

Jewish Home’s chairman, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, usually prefers a suit, tie and knitted kipah. But in the most famous video of the young campaign, Bennett steps out of his comfort zone, enters the secular environs of Tel Aviv and dresses up as a hipster, complete with flannel, piercings and beard. Watch to find out why:

2. Yehiel Hazan, the Godfather

Let’s say your father served in Knesset, illegally voted twice and was caught tampering with the evidence. If you want to run for Knesset now, what do you do? Oren Hazan, son of disgraced former MK Yehiel Hazan, decided to make his father’s corruption scandal the theme of his campaign video for the Likud primary.

Set to the classic score from “The Godfather,” the video shows the elder Hazan drinking wine, smoking a cigar and doing what we can only assume is his best Marlon Brando impression. And yes, the video includes the phrase “an offer they can’t refuse.”

3. Danny Danon, the cowboy

Danon, running today to replace Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as chairman of Likud, brought some Wild West flair to his video. The ad features an adaptation of “Oh, Susanna” targeted at Hanin Zoabi, an outspoken and controversial lawmaker from the Arab Balad party, and shows a cartoon Danon as a cowboy. But no matter how quick Danon is on the draw, Netanyahu is expected to retain his chairmanship.

4. Avi Wortzman, the superhero

Sure, Superman can defeat Lex Luther, but how would he fare in the Knesset? A spot for Jewish Home lawmaker Avi Wortzman shows a bewildered Man of Steel enter a phone booth and turn into Wortzman so he can pursue … education reform.

5. Ronen Shoval, the horror movie savior

In this spot from Jewish Home candidate Ronen Shoval, the founder of right-wing NGO Im Tirtzu, center-left politician Tzipi Livni and Peace Now Chairman Yariv Oppenheimer are shown as zombies in a forest, about to terrorize a biker. In comes Shoval, who lures the two away with a copy of Haaretz, a left-wing newspaper. His next move? Inviting the biker to coffee.