With a little more than two weeks left before Israeli elections, one might not expect to see the Prime Minister of Israel partying away at a Tel Aviv night club. But as this year’s elections have shown, Israeli candidates have been donning jeans and ‘hanging out’ with younger supporters in an attempt to attract younger voters.
On Sunday night, January 6, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived at the Reading 3 night club in the Tel Aviv port, accompanied by heavy security and his two sons, Avner, a high school student and 21-year-old Yair. Upon entering the club, packed with 1,000 supporters dancing to Israeli music under colored lights, enthusiastic university-aged and older high school students quickly gathered to the DJ station where Netanyahu stood to address his supporters.
The prime minister called on the young people, some of whom traveled on organized buses from as far north as Metula, bordering Lebanon, and from other towns including Sderot, Haifa, and Jerusalem to “strengthen Likud.” “Vote for Mahal,” was the evening’s mantra. Netanyahu further added that every “vote counted” and encouraged the crowd to “get your friends to vote” in order to secure Likud-Beytenu’s position in the government.
Amid flashing lights, loud music and glow sticks – the party fervor was electrifying. One excited high school girl got on her friend’s shoulders and reached over above the crowd to shake the prime minister’s hand. Others snapped photos of the prime minister, immediately posting them to Facebook. The prime minister’s older son, Yair, also took the time to mingle with the crowd, as the young and old, particularly high school girls asked the prime minister’s son to pose for photographs.
Some of the partiers were more reserved. Stefan from southern Germany and a business student at Tel Aviv University, told Tazpit News Agency that he has always been interested in Israeli politics. “I would not want to be in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s shoes. It’s a very tough job,” he pointed out. “Netanyahu is very charismatic and confident, a very different personality from Germany’s chancellor. I’m not sure that Angela Merkel would attend a party like this.”
Other Israeli political candidates have held similar events targeting younger voters this election season including Meretz’s Zahava Galon and Jewish Home’s Naftali Bennett.
Only 65% of eligible Israelis cast their ballots in the last elections for the 18th Knesset held in February 2009.
Israeli President Shimon Peres recently released a comical video on Sunday calling on young voters to go cast their ballots when national elections will be held on Tuesday, January 22.
“You invest so much of your time in voting for reality shows. What about your own reality?” asks the 89-year-old Israeli president in the video. “Voting is the most important civic duty. It will affect the fate of each and every one of you. Therefore, your vote is crucial.”