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Mar 9, 2006

UTJ electioneering advertisements

I happened to open up a Yated Ne'Eman today (something I almost never do). This was the Hebrew edition, which is slightly better than the English (though not much).
As I am flipping through it glancing at last weeks news, I see a large ad for United Torah Judaism.

Some background for the uninformed readers: Yated Ne'Eman is the flagship "party" newspaper for Degel Hatorah. Degel is one of the major parties in the join UTJ party for Knesset. The other main party is Agudas Yisrael whose "party" newspaper is HaModia. UTJ also has other smaller groups contained within, but those are the main two groups.

So, I am flipping through the paper and see this ad. What does the ad say? It reads (translated by me from hebrew), " The Oslo Accords passed by one vote. One more mandate for UTJ can make a tremendous difference."

Now, it could be they mean something else by this reference to Oslo. Maybe they just want to show how important one extra seat is, but they do not say therefore give us the extra seat to improve Jewish education or to raise the level of awareness in judaism, or whatever. The ad just stops there.
To me that sounds like they are saying if UTJ has even one extra seat in Knesset, it will be that much stronger to thwart issues like Oslo.

I am not going to debate now the idea of peace agreements, or oslo, or the disengagement and whether they are good or not. What does disturb me is when UTJ makes such a reference. UTJ knows that most Haredim (the natural voters and supporters of UTJ) are generally right wing and for the most part were against Oslo, the disengagement and the evacuation of Amona. The ad, making such a reference, is clearly playing on those emotions and saying that a more powerful UTJ can have the ability to thwart such moves by the government.

My problem with this is that it is misleading. UTJ has always said they do not want to take part in national issues and have actually refrained from being the deciding factor in such issues. However, in the last government UTJ supported the government at a time when they were evacuating Gush Katif, even though most of its constituents were against the disengagement. Granted, UTJ was not a deciding factor in any of the votes, and they only joined after they knew the government, but they still joined which gave the government some more comfort room and breathing space. They joined because they were offered 290 milion shekels of support.

And now they are advertising for votes as if they are so right wing and would thwart any such moves by the future government.

If you are really against taking sides in national issues and prefer to stay to issues that deal with jewish awareness and observance, keep it that way in your advertising as well.

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