This blue and white poster was produced by the Likud party as part of their election campaign in 2009. The poster is designed in such a way that it actually resembles the Israeli flag with its blue Magen David (Star of David) on a white background with blue stripes. At the bottom of the poster appears the Likud voting slip with the letters mem, chet, and lamed, forming the acronym MACHAL (מחל), which represents the Likud, and the party names, “HaLikud – Achi” (a small national religious party that united with the Likud for these elections).
The poster states very simply that Likud’s goal is Israel’s security, and its design reflects patriotism and loyalty. Security is a common theme in the Likud campaigns in recent years, highlighting that only a strong right wing can succeed in protecting the state and its citizens.
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2009 Israeli General Elections – The elections for the 18th Knesset were held on February 10, 2009. The elections occurred after the resignation of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, head of the Kadima party, due to investigations into fraud allegations. The main issues that featured in the election campaign were the consequences of the 2006 Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. Ultimately, despite the fact that Kadima won the most seats in the Knesset, only the Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu was able to form a coalition parliament, and he became the next prime minister.
Likud – The Likud is a secular, centre-right political party in Israel. Based historically on revisionist ideology, the Likud party was formed in 1973 by Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon as a merger between several right-wing parties: Gachal (itself a merger of Herut and the Liberal party), the Free Centre National List, and the Movement of Greater Israel. After many years in opposition, the Likud won the elections in 1977, the first time that a right-wing party won a majority of the votes. Since then, Likud has formed most of Israel’s governments under Menachem Begin, Itzhak Shamir, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ariel Sharon. Likud’s ideology is based on the belief that Israel has to maintain a strong military force against its neighbours. Despite its reluctance to negotiate with Arab neighbours that threat Israel’s existence the Likud was in fact the first party to sign a peace treaty with an Arab country: the Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty in 1979. Likewise, Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech in 2009, known as the Bar-Ilan Speech, which endorsed the creation of a Palestinian State alongside Israel. The Likud party emphasises the Jewish right to settle in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and, formerly, in the Gaza Strip and sees the Jordan River as Israel’s permanent eastern border. With regards to the economy, the Likud supports a free-market capitalist and liberal agenda. The Likud supports preservation of the status quo on issues of religion and state but is associated with a more traditional and nationalist approach to religion and culture in Israel.
Binyamin Netanyahu – Binyamin “Bibi” Netanyahu was born in Tel Aviv in 1949. He lived in Jerusalem and moved as a teenager to the United States, where his father was teaching at an American university. Netanyahu served in an elite commando unit of the IDF and participated in the operation to free hostages from the Sabena hijacked plane in 1972. His older brother Yoni would later be killed in Entebbe in 1976, as he too was attempting to free hostages from a hijacking. Netanyahu studied in America at MIT and Harvard and worked for an American consulting group. In 1982, Netanyahu worked in the Israeli diplomatic mission in New York and later became Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations. He entered Israeli politics in 1988 as a member of Knesset for the Likud party, and in 1993 he was elected chair of the party. Netanyahu ran as Likud’s candidate in the first direct elections for prime minister in 1996 and served as prime minister from 1996–1999. He was subsequently re-elected in the general elections of 2009, 2013, and 2015, serving as prime minister since 2009.
Elections in Israel – Israel is a democratic country, and general elections for the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, take place, according to the law, once every four years. The nationwide elections are based on a multi-party, proportional representation system. The legal voting age in Israel is 18, and all Israeli citizens from sectors may vote and be elected. Using voting slips with the initials of the parties, citizens vote for their preferred party and not for individual candidates. The 120 seats in the Knesset are then assigned proportionally to the parties according to the number of votes received. After the elections, the president of Israel chooses the leader of the largest party or of the party that is most likely to form a viable coalition government. This leader then forms a government, the Knesset gives it a vote of confidence, and the leader then becomes prime minister.