Yisrael Beytenu on Friday was forced to remove a campaign video criticizing chareidim for not joining the army and not working – when it turned out that one of the people featured in the video as a subject of criticism was actually an IDF veteran. The individual, Rabbi Elisha Levi, is seen in the video accompanied by text calling for the drafting of chareidim. In reality, Rabbi Levi is a decorated veteran of the Six Day War.
The issue was brought to the fore by Michaela Levi, granddaughter of the rabbi. In a social media post, she wrote “how ugly is this election campaign? Today I saw a video released by Avigdor Liberman, who apparently doesn’t think much of the people behind the images he allows himself to insult and defame, among them my grandfather. How dare you generalize like this? Do you know the backgrounds of any of the people in your images? I can tell you, Mr. Liberman, that there are lives behind those images.”
Also criticizing the video was Shas MK Rabbi Yaakov Margi, who said in a statement that “Liberman is shamelessly inciting the nation. At the height of his chutzpah he has misused the image of Rabbi Elisha Levi, a fighter in the Six Day War whose children and grandchildren served in the IDF and National Service. I and others like me in Shas also shared the burden. Liberman, you should change your campaign, because you have no trust among the people.”
In a statement, Yisrael Beytenu said that “after being contacted by the family of one of the people in the video who recognized a family member and requested that it be taken down, we did so immediately. It’s important to stress that the images used were required legally from the photographer.”