NU-NRP campaign mocks settler image
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Leaflet 'warns' TA voters that more pullouts will lead to religious neighbors.
The National Union-National Religious Party coalition, a political bloc identified with the settler movement, has turned to using self-deprecating humor to try to rally young, secular Israelis to oppose possible future withdrawals from West Bank settlements. Activists from the parties fanned out through pubs in trendy Tel Aviv suburbs - traditional bastions of secular and left-wing voters - in recent days passing out postcards of bearded settlers in yarmulkes, with the caption, "Do you want him to be your neighbor?" The campaign sought to fan fears among secular Israelis that if the settlers are forced to relocate, the middle classes of Tel Aviv could find themselves living beside devoutly religious families with large numbers of children. Last summer's pullout uprooted more than 8,000 settlers - mostly religious - from their Gaza and Samaria homes. National Union legislator Aryeh Eldad told Army Radio the cards were distributed around the wealthy suburb of Herzliya in recent days. Bar patrons interviewed by the radio accused the campaign's sponsors, Eldad's National Union and the allied National Religious Party, of trying to drive a wedge between the settlers and middle-of-the road urban, secular Israelis. Eldad said the cards were meant to be a humorous attempt to win votes for the March 28 election from a new demographic, and critics were missing the joke. "People in Tel Aviv are well-known for their sense of humor, but they really didn't get the self-irony here," he said. "How can you interpret it as anything other than a joke?"