Skip to main content

Ultra-Orthodox campaigning goes digital as Israeli election nears

In a dramatic shift from past elections, ultra-Orthodox parties have gone digital to keep up with their own constituencies.

An unusual video is circulating on Twitter. It shows ultra-Orthodox singers singing, “We must win,” a jingle encouraging viewers to vote for the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party in the upcoming election. Even more surprisingly, this video is not the only one being shared by the ultra-Orthodox party on social networks.

Until this election campaign, UTJ had stuck with its campaign approach, ignoring social media. It ran ads in party-affiliated newspapers and on street posters in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. The posters may have gone from black and white to colorful graphic design on shiny paper, and the wording is now honed by professional publicists, but the principle had remained unchanged. 

Over the years, the party also advertised on radio and television, but these broadcasts were paid for by public election funds meant for TV ads, which only the secular public would even see. In contrast, the current Twitter-savvy campaign clearly targets the ultra-Orthodox public.

For the first time, the party has invested significant election funds in the digital arena. The videos are shared via WhatsApp and other social networks and the candidates are also exploring new venues.

leader Aryeh Deri and his staff now operate a Twitter account. Even the leader of the conservative UTJ, Moshe Gafni, has suddenly started to tweet. Gafni, who is over 70, doesn’t have a smartphone, but he is suddenly active on Twitter, where his posts get many reposts and likes. 

The party would prefer to maintain the idea that the ultra-Orthodox are unfamiliar with the digital world, but that's far from the case. The party-affiliated newspapers, which until recently had been the exclusive beneficiaries of the campaign funds, are upset that the budgets are shifting to the digital arena. 

Moishe Levinger, owner of the publicity firm Smart Click is not surprised. “Surveys show that 50-66% of the ultra-Orthodox use the internet in some form throughout the day, so at least half of the ultra-Orthodox public is online. Besides that, according to our data, 250,000 ultra-Orthodox regularly use WhatsApp. So today, anyone who ignores this fact concedes an arena that could reach exactly the target audience,” said Levinger.

Levinger said that while it’s true the ultra-Orthodox public operates at its own pace, in its own ways — smartphones are filtered by apps that prevent exposure to unwanted content and activity is almost entirely limited to platforms like WhatsApp and ultra-Orthodox sites — “At the bottom line, the ultra-Orthodox public is connected online, and whoever wants to appeal to it should use digital platforms.” 

Take the popularity of a pair of ultra-Orthodox comedians, Meny Wakshtok and Efi Skakovsky, the creators of the series "Bardak." The show started during the COVID-19 lockdowns as a satirical program on WhatsApp that explores the ultra-Orthodox experience. It has become so popular that any young ultra-Orthodox man would recognize the pair and even top companies like Mercantil Bank and Prigat Juice hire them for ad campaigns. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Israel Briefing Israel Briefing

Israel Briefing

Top Israel stories in your inbox each week

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial