About the Project

General elections are a highly significant occasion in the life of a democratic society. In Israel's parliamentary regime, elections for the Knesset are of great import. The lively campaign that characterizes the weeks and months leading up to election day itself nurtures Israel's democratic culture.
The vitality of Israeli society has been evident in each of the nineteen election campaigns that have taken place since the establishment of the state, from the elections for the Constituent Assembly in 1949 to the current 2012 race. The dynamic, multi-party, polarized countenance of the Israeli political system is manifest on a daily basis in the parliamentary and public realms, but elections and the accompanying propaganda bring this energy to the fore.
Election propaganda evokes deep-seated responses grounded in generations of the many upheavals and transitions and momentous events that have occurred in the life of the Jewish people and the history of this region, both pre-and post-state.
For the most part, elections are not recorded in the annals of higher culture such as literature or art, but in ephemera that attest to the mainstream nature of the event. These manifestations take the form of print, radio and television propaganda, and in more recent years, Internet propaganda. They constitute an authentic reflection of the zeitgeist: the conflicts of opinion, the emotional intensity, modes of expression and even changing linguistic trends and current slang. They revitalize the past, eliciting nostalgia from the older generation and curiosity from the young. To shore up this effect we have included relevant press offerings and photographs from each election campaign, along with information about the results.
The issues that dominate the Israeli public agenda are manifest in election propaganda. We have elected to focus on four such issues: the Arab-Israeli conflict, including wars and peace agreements; economic policy, from Socialism to free enterprise; the internal tension inherent in Israel's status as a Jewish state; and various social issues that have arisen at different times, including ethnic, nationalist and class-based conflicts.
Alongside these general perspectives, we attempt to depict the unique character of each election campaign, its key figures and central events. We also note the events and individuals on the periphery of each election, to add something of the flavor of the time.
Over the next two months we will continue to add materials to this site, featuring a different election campaign at any given time. Elections are points in time at which multiple expressions of Israeli public sentiment are in evidence. The materials preserved by the National Library and other partners in this project enable us to give the public a full, rich, and varied portrait of significant events in the Israeli national memory.

Documentation of election propaganda is part of the National Library's broader undertaking to document all aspects of Israeli society in the context of its Israel Collection. The National Library collects Israeli publications and archival materials of all kinds, including ephemera – materials not intended for posterity. These include propaganda, posters, flyers, programs of cultural and social events, invitations to family events, etc. This collection also contains materials pertaining to political issues that predated the establishment of the state that are carried through to the election campaigns presented here: disputes between the old and new Zionist establishments, between civil groups and the Labor party, between Jews and Arabs, between the various underground movements during the British mandate period, and so on. Alongside these are publications related to elections for other bodies: community councils, the National Council in the Mandate period, local councils, the Histadrut and workers' council, etc.


The National Library's press collection also contains invaluable documentation of daily life in Israel. The collection contains pre- and post-state publications of all types, in many languages. The prominence of partisan press in Israel throughout the 20th century gives the documentation of Israeli politics in the print media a special significance. 
In recent years the Library has begun preserving Israeli Internet resources. The first fruits of this undertaking are also presented here. The Internet has taken the place occupied first by print media and then by broadcast media as mediator between the political system and the public.


Complementary to these materials are the Library's collections of music, books, photographs, archives and maps, each of which contributes to the vibrant mosaic of Israeli society and culture. The Library's other main areas of activity, as represented by the Judaica Collection and Islam and Middle East Collection, are also part of the authentic and exhaustive depiction of Israel, in their documentation of neighboring countries and of Jewish communities in other parts of the world.


In addition to the traditional active collection, the National Library is undertaking expansion of its digital holdings. This includes digitization of its collections of ephemera, press, music, maps and others, and also of important collections from other institutions both in Israel and elsewhere, in order to make them accessible to the general public via the Internet. A pertinent example is the "Time Travel" project, which involves digitization of Israeli ephemera from various sources.



Photographs are courtesy of the National Photograph Collection – The Government Press Office


Data on the election campaigns is courtesy of the Israel Democracy Institute

The educational materials were developed in cooperation with Snunit

The National Library of Israel provides access to material in accordance with the law, and where it is not aware of limitations on access. In the event that, in your opinion, a possibility of copyright infringement exists regarding the material appearing on this site, or in the case of any question on this matter, please contact us to enable us to clarify the matter. If we determine that the inquiry merits clarification, we will prevent access to the material without delay and until a final determination is made.



Use of the materials on the National Library's site, as well as their reproduction or duplication, either partially or in their entirety, in either electronic or paper format is strictly limited to private study, scholarship or research, in accordance with principles of fair use delineated in the Israel Copyright Law, 5768-2007. The source of the material must be acknowledged in any use made thereof.