The Bayit Yehudi Party distanced itself on Monday from its own campaign in Jerusalem, which depicts mayoral candidates Ze’ev Elkin, Moshe Lion and Ofer Berkovich with black hats and sidelocks.
The goal of the campaign was to warn religious Zionist voters in Jerusalem that if they do not vote for Bayit Yehudi, the next mayor will build a coalition dominated by haredim (ultra-Orthodox).
Campaign director Yehoshua Mor-Yosef defended it on Army Radio, saying “you can debate our creative approach, but the problem won’t go away."
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said the campaign was done without the knowledge of the national party and did not reflects its views on haredim. Bayit Yehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich called it “shameful” and “borderline antisemitic.”
City council member Aryeh King, who heads a separate religious Zionist list in the October 30 election called “United Jerusalem,” called upon Bennett to fire the head of the local Bayit Yehudi list, Deputy Mayor Hagit Moshe, and not complain about Mor-Yosef, who he said was merely the gatekeeper.
Shas MK Yinon Azoulai said the campaign “incited” against haredim and “looked like it came from the pages of the Nazi weekly tabloid Der Stürmer.
Shas city councilman Haim Cohen called Bayit Yehudi, which means Jewish home, “the home of the goyim.”
Berkovich’s party, Hitorerut, also called the campaign “borderline antisemitic” and disgusting,” and called on Bayit Yehudi to display more responsibility.
Mayoral candidate Rachel Azaria, who has been the victim of haredim destroying bus ads bearing her picture, criticized the Bayit Yehudi campaign, saying that “in my Jewish home, we don’t depict people as haredim as an act of humiliation or degradation.”
She said she was returning to the city council from the Knesset to end such divisiveness.
Meanwhile, a police spokesman revealed that an investigation of Lion’s accounting firm by the Income Tax Authority and Lahav 433 fraud squad found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing, corruption or tax evasion. Their recommendation to not indict Lion will be sent to the State Prosecution for a final decision.