One of the lists running in the Tel Aviv elections is the Segev list, which describes itself as a religious list. They cleverly made up their election flyer to resemble the weekly Shabbat Lesson and news-sheet put out by Young Chabad, using the same layout and font. The publicity sheet even provides the number of Chabad houses offering hospitality around the world. A copy of the election flyer is shown above.
Young Chabad successfully managed to obtain an injunction from Justice Denya Karat-Meir of the Tel Aviv District Court to prevent distribution of the offending literature. However, anticipating the move, Segev’s team of campaigners managed to distribute the flyers in Synagogues across Tel Aviv before the injunction issued.
Chabad is the official name for the Lubavich Hassidic organization, which is active in outreach to Jews everywhere.
In the past, when the (apparently Late) Lubavicher Rebbe endorsed a political party and various policies, Chabad emissaries were considered as representing a political party and banned from army bases. Currently recognized as a group of apolitical do-gooders, the organization is welcome in many places. This will change if their organizations support specific candidates.
The election stunt is clever and may have resulted in many Synagogue attendants learning about Segev’s platform. but it implies endorsement from an organization that is not endorsing. This seems somewhat fraudulent. The judgement is correct.
Last week’s Torah Portion covers Abraham’s argument with the Almighty regarding plans to destroy Sodom and Gemorrah, where Abraham haggles to save the city if there 50, 40, 30… at least 10 good people. It is an excellent piece to satirize for a municipal election.
We note that Amir Perez (now with Tzippy Livni’s Kadima party after announcing that he would never leave the Labour Party again) once published a Torah sheet for the Exodus portion, arguing against slave-like work conditions, and in favour of the minimum wage.
In general, I believe that satire and free speech should overcome copyright considerations, particularly in an election campaign, but it has to be clear that the satirized party are not providing endorsements. In this case, it wasn’t sufficiently clear.