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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Election Campaign Broadcasts, The Most Popular Target-Issue

The third night of those very Israeli official election movie-shorts began to feel a bit tedious.  Maybe that's because there wasn't all that much original material.  The Likud basically remixed some clips and repeated them a few times, not that I'm counting. 

I wonder if they plan on quizzing us to recite lines and sing jingles from the parties as a requirement for voting...

My brain was starting to feel numb, so maybe I'm wrong about what I remember.  I think that the only new Likud clip was when Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke of his grandfather and father.  That brings us to the "hit" of this year's campaigning, the "elderly," אזרחים ותיקים ezrachim vattikim, senior citizens, pensioners.

Everybody is mentioning parents, dead and alive.  Tsippi Livni talks about her father and Arieh Deri talks about his mother.  The most clever ads so far are from an elderly party, Dor, the new pensioners’ party.  They have two great scenes so far.  One shows an elderly man who has to choose between buying food or buying medicine.  It's silent, and the acting is superb.  The message is clear.  The elderly who live on simple Bituach Le'umi old age pensions can't afford both.  I get old age payments from them, too, and even though I get more than the minimum, because I've been working for over thirty years, the total is about half of minimum wage.  Today that party added another scene.  You see a man, not young, getting dressed, dressed nicely to go to work, and then when he opens the door he can't leave.  It's barricaded.  The ad says that the elderly are forbidden from working.  Now, I don't quite understand what they're driving at; I work.  Is it age discrimination they're complaining about?  Regardless, their ads are excellent except for two important things. 
  • It's a one issue campaign and our lives are more complicated than old age pensions.  There's security, education and many other things to consider when choosing who should get your vote.
  • Who are the candidates?  It's like buying a car or computer or digital camera without ever seeing what you're buying or knowing the quality.
The Shas party is also campaigning to give more to the elderly, claiming they care more than anyone.  Arieh Deri sits with an older woman in a very nicely furnished home talking about honoring parents.  Is that his mother?  She does not look poverty stricken, but that doesn't mean anything.  And there's United Torah Judaism claiming that nobody cares for the elderly more than they do.  What's most surprising in the UTJ ad is that it doesn't mention that it's a chareidi party...

In some ways the elderly do have it better here in Israel than in other countries.  Basic medical care is free or very reasonable.  But it isn't right that the basic state pension should be much less than minimum wage.  Minimum wage isn't enough to live on comfortably.  If a retired, or of retired age Israeli doesn't have some additional pension, then there is no way that person can expect to cover minimal expenses.  But for a political party to be able to fix the problem, it would take more than a couple of MKs.  Major changes must be made in the financial system here.  No instant fix.  There are many of us of pension age in the country.  It won't be simple, and it won't be cheap.

Honestly, it's nice to know that at least it's an issue in the Knesset campaign.  That's a first step.  I'm waiting to see if more steps will be taken by the MKs elected.  I'd hate to think that this issue will be like that pledge all Americans running for the Presidency take, to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem...

There are campaign promises and then there's the next morning...

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