Blue and White Party Slammed for ‘Antisemitic Hate’ Ad Targeting Religious Right

Former military chief Benny Gantz is to be tasked with forming a new government in a landmark moment in Israeli politics as veteran incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu has been given the task after every election since 2009

JERUSALEM – The Blue and White party has come under fire for its latest ad campaign which has been denounced as “antisemitic” and full of “hate and incitement.”

The ad, which ironically appeared in several religious publications, attacks ultra-Orthodox religious Zionists, known in Israel by the portmanteau Hardal.

Hardal is also the Hebrew word for mustard. The ad features the Israeli flag stained with what appears to be mustard and underneath a slogan reads, “So much mustard there’s no longer any taste.” The meaning is clear: The religious Zionist faction has been “overrun” by its more extreme fringes, who traditionally vote for right-wing parties – Yamina, in this election cycle.

Blue and White’s tasteless – pun intended – ad was part of its bid to pull in the more moderate religious right voters who are often seen as a swing voters.

Defense Minister and Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, slammed Blue and White over the campaign, taking to Facebook to post that he too was “proud to be a Hardal.”

“Blue and White, look for your votes elsewhere,” Bennett wrote. “Sometimes you stand for a secular unity government, sometimes you say you’re ‘neither right nor left’ and today you are ‘warning us about the hardalnikim.’

“The mustard stain on the flag took you a few minutes to design on Photoshop, but removing this stain, this shame, will take years.”
Bennett concluded by accusing Blue and White, which is the main challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, of campaigning on nothing but “hatred” and an anti-Netanyahu agenda.

“When you find an identity not based on hatred (and just no Bibi) give us a call,” he said.

The far-right Otzma Yehudit Party said the ad had a “stench of antisemitism about it” and filed a petition to the High Court against Blue and White for incitement and contempt for the Israeli flag.

“This is an ugly and blatant incitement against the Israeli ultra-Orthodox public in Israel, as well as a violation of the symbol and the national anthem, which is contrary to the law,” the petition read.

Israel journalist and commentator Elyashiv Reichner called the ad ugly because he said it touched on controversies relating to the mainstream ultra-Orthodox sector – which refuses army service – that have nothing to do with the ultra-Orthodox national religious.

“But it’s ugly not because of the stain on the flag, it’s ugly because the Israeli flag is the symbol of Zionism, and the legitimate controversy with the ultra-Orthodox public is not really about Zionism. The ultra-Orthodox Zionist public is no less than ‘Blue and White’ people.”

 The group attacked by Blue and White, Reichner noted, serves in the army and has a plethora of charitable initiatives to help out underprivileged people throughout Israel’s society as a whole.
“To claim that this public stains the Israeli flag? It’s just ugly,” Reichner concluded.

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