National Library of Israel Launches Special Historical Elections Site
(Communication from the Government Press Office and the National Library of
In advance of elections for the 19th Knesset, which are scheduled for 22
January 2013, the National Library of Israel
has launched a special site
(in Hebrew), which features election propaganda and media coverage from
every Knesset election since the establishment of the state. The site
includes thousands of election slogans and advertisements, campaign
photographs of politicians, party platforms, speeches, press releases,
articles and reports, etc. Digital files of Internet campaigns from the 2006
and 2009 elections are to be uploaded soon.
The structure of the site makes it possible to explore each of the 18
previous election campaigns individually or laterally, according to four
core issues that have remained pertinent throughout the history of the
state: social and ethnic struggles, the Arab-Israeli conflict, religion and
state, and economic issues. The user can thus trace a various partyor issue
over time, e.g. the conscription of women, socialism versus free market,
The site also showcases more localized items of interest, including parties
that existed in the earlier years of the state, among them the Yemenite
Party, the Progressive Party, the Religious Women's List, the Sephardic
Parties, the Fighters' Party, the Housewives Party, and the parties of Abie
Nathan, Samuel Plato-Sharon, Uri Avneri and Ariel Sharon (Shlomzion).
The site also presents types of propaganda that are all but obsolete in this
era of television and the Internet: caricatures, pamphlets, leaders'
election rally speeches.Some of these publications, which were often
distributed in tens of thousands of copies,feature serious accusations
against political rivals. The site also contains materials in Yiddish,
Hungarian and other languages, which date from early elections campaigns
when many of the voters did not know Hebrew.
The project represents a major undertaking by the National Library, which
has, in recent years, invested considerable resources in preserving and
digitizing printed items such as flyers, posters, business cards,
invitations, event programs, and more. It is a valuable contribution to the
documentation of Israeli society.
According to Dr. Hezi Amiur, Curator of the National Library's Israel
Collection,new material will be added to the site on an ongoing basis. "Most
of the cultural record of election campaigns is not evident in higher
culture such as literature or art, but in propaganda material that attests
to its status a mainstream historical event. These publications accurately
reflect the spirit of the time – the controversial topics, the intensity of
popular feelings, developing vehicles of expression and even slang. The
materials that have been uploaded to the site rekindle the spirit of the
times and elicit nostalgia in the heart of older Israelis and curiosity in
the minds of the young. The posters and photographs displayed attest to the
fact that many current issues are merely new versions of ones that have been
in evidence since the establishment of Israel."