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Unexpected pop-ups

Commercial advertisements in the form of pop-ups is nothing new. It’s mostly annoying but most of us have already managed to simply close these irritating windows coming (un)expectedly. However, recently I happened to encounter them in two occasions I wouldn’t expect them to exist. Well, yeah – once again many would say I’m simply too naive, and even if it’s wrong – this is the way things are today.

The study material kits sent to students of the Israeli Open University toward the summer semester, as always carry a very clear contents list, strictly followed, I should say. This time, one of them had an extra surprise inside – a small folded brochure of the cellular company Cellcom, listing three “special offers” for students.
As far as I know, the Open University, just like the other higher education institutions in the country formally recognized as universities, is a public institution, enjoying not only the fairly degnified tuition fees paid by the students, but also annual state support. It’s no secret there’s quite a debate going on for a number of years about the financial resources of the higher education, but voluntary privatization isn’t part of any plan.

A response from the Open University could not be retrieved.

November 7th: Apparently, it wasn’t the first time for the Open University to collaborate with Cellcom. Advertisement materials of the latter were already added to the study kits sent to students in 2006, along with a brochure of the students allowances company ISL (that belongs to Clal Insurance group).

Contorversial financial support for political parties in Israel is already a long story, which happened to appear “even” when it came to left-wing so-called socialist parties. It’s just that I was rather surprised to encounter one of those already-traditional pop-up ads when entering the formal website of the Hadash party (“The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality”), known to be ultra-socialist, towards the left ends of the political map, at least in the Israeli standards.
The first time I saw it I thought maybe I’ve done something wrong. I tried a few times more and each time I was greeted by either an advertisement for an astrologist service or some kind of dating website. The internet team of Hadash responded saying “There are no advertisements on the websites of Hadash and Maki (“Israeli Communist Party” – I.L). In general, we object the commercialization of the politics and the public life”. And indeed, few minutes after I’ve received the email, the pop-up ads were gone.

November 6th: The same pop-up ads on Hadash’s website are back.

But maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised. After all, in Israel, even the public and state-owned media are also funded by commercial companies. Both IDF radio (Galey Tzahal) and the Broadcast Authority (including the Kol Israel radio stations and the Channel 1 TV) are supposed to be fully funded by both the state budget and a monthly (?) toll. However, in addition to that, it’s been for years already that sponsorships by commercial bodies are screened during or prior to TV and radio shows.

But hey, it’s just recently that the Israeli Knesset has approved a new law that practically allows commercial pop-ups along the Ayalon highway for the benefit of the advertisers. So maybe it’s just a matter of time until commercial ads will be an integral part of our public space – by law, of course – funding everything a citizen deserves so the government can allocate the so-called limited budget for the so-called more important things.

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