High Court Allows Controversial Campaign Ads

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel’s High Court of Justice on Tuesday overruled a Central Elections Committee ban on offensive campaign ads sponsored by Strong Israel and Balad, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Strong Israel petitioned the Court to allow it to reinstate a broadcast with the slogan “not an Arab country, and not a country of infiltrators,” and Balad claimed the right to mock the national anthem to the melody of an Arabic song.

The court reversed the decision of CEC committee chairman Justice Elyakim Rubinstein and granted permission for all aspects of the parties’ campaigns to be broadcast.

A Balad representative praised “the High Court [that] accepted all of the claims of the Balad party, according to which the purpose of the broadcast was to voice criticism in a satirical manner on the attempt to legislate an obligation on Arab citizens to declare loyalty to the national anthem.”

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s head lawyer Dan Yakir also argued in court on behalf of both sides and against infringement on free speech.

It was noteworthy that ACRI, which is usually associated with left-wing causes, in this instance supported the case of the right-wing Strong Israel party.

Yakir said about the ban, “Freedom of expression includes the right to broadcast satire and provocative statements. This is especially important when it comes to election campaign broadcasts, which are intended to help citizens decide for whom to vote. The decision to disallow parts of the broadcasts was not founded on the tests for the limitation of freedom of expression established by the Supreme Court, and therefore has no legal basis.”