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Israel Makes Its Case to Its Own

Immigration Ministry campaign targets nationals living in the States

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From the Ministry of Immigration homepage.(Ministry of Immigrant Absorption)

Friend-of-The-Scroll Steven I. Weiss of The Jewish Channel noticed a “semi-covert” ad campaign in at least five American metropolitan areas—New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Palo Alto, and Boston— targeting Israelis and encouraging them to move back to Israel. “Before ‘Aba’ Is Changed Into Daddy, The Time Has Come To Return to Israel,” reads a billboard, in Yvrit, in Hollywood, Florida (translations are TJC’s). A television commercial shows an English-speaking boyfriend not understanding his Israeli girlfriend’s remembrance of fallen Israeli soldiers, and closes with the line: “They will always remains Israelis, their partners won’t always understand what this means. Help them return to Israel.” Another TV spot shows a young girl video-chatting with her Israeli grandparents and telling them that she is celebrating … Christmas. Indeed, the diversity of appeals suggests that the impetus is to persuade warm Jewish bodies to make their homes in the Jewish state, no matter the reason. Which would make sense: As Weiss points out, Israel’s Ministry for Immigration, which launched the campaign, is most famous for encouraging American Jews to make aliyah (remember this?).

The so-called Returning Home Project offers “Tax concessions” and “Incentives for starting a business.” The Israelis in the ads wear normal dress; the men do not wear kippot. The two smallest cities targeted are Palo Alto, Calif., the home of Stanford University, and Boston—in other words, two of America’s three largest hubs for tech companies (the third being NYC). In other words, the campaign seems pretty clearly to be an effort to recruit nonreligious Israelis back: a provocative notion for those who believe that the increasingly religious character of Israeli society is leading to a diaspora of young, secular Israelis from Tel Aviv to Silicon Valley, Cambridge, and Brooklyn. Perhaps that is part of why the usually publicity-happy Immigration Ministry has, as Weiss reports, kept extremely mum about this campaign: “Other than the actual marketing,” Weiss reports, “no communication has been sent out.” In his weekly segment, Weiss’ next item is “how difficult it has become to live in Israel unless one maintains an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle.”

Watch the report here:

Week in Review: November 25, 2011 [The Jewish Channel]
Earlier: Ad Calls Non-Israeli Jews ‘Lost’

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Michael Pitkowsky says:

This campaign started months ago and it was in numerous Israeli media outlets and Israeli newspapers distributed in America, there’s nothing new about it. Outreach to American Jews has largely been outsourced to Nefesh B’Nefesh. I posted about it here:

Ben Birnbaum says:

I think we can stop rolling the chorus from “Secret Agent Man.” My friend Alex Beam had a go at this story in the Boston Globe, on 11/18/11, with quote from the sponsors of the campaign, and brief analysis from Jonathan Sarna—hardly Deep Throat.

yehudah says:

is no one disturbed by the implicit claim propounded by these ads that jewish culture is impossible to maintain outside of israel?

Doug Greener says:

What’s all the shock about? These are well-made ads, clearly aimed at their target populations — and I hope they’re effective. Somebody did their homework. If you can’t compete with salaries, you look for other means.

As to “how difficult it has become to live in Israel unless one maintains an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle,” gimme a break! I invite Weiss to come and visit me — in Jerusalem! — and see how easy it is to avoid whatever restrictions the ultra-Orthodox are imposing on their own people and neighborhoods. This item is really grasping for news, making a tsunami out of a light breeze.

Doug, most of us take issue with them reaching their target audience via putting down American Jews. Not sure why people can’t get this. It seems the Israeli government has forgotten Jewish history: Dubnow warned about the dangers of statism and nationalism w/r/t Zionism over 100 years ago.

You expressed that point perfectly and I am with you in agreement.

Alien X says:

After I spent 2 months in Israel I discovered that Jewish identity and Israeli identity is not the same. I’d say Israelis managed to merge these identities into one. The Israelis feel that non-Israelis (regardless whether Jews or Goyim) will have hard time understanding them, so it’s better to seek marriage among their own. Nevertheless many Israelis have foreign spouses.

Israelis also have unflattering view of American Jews. That does not surprise me. American Jews often side with Palestinians. Who do you think are the organizers of the Gaza Flotilla? Radical Islamists? NO. American Jews! or If you go to Al Jazeera website, the Arab site (in English) with the strong left wing and anti-Israeli bias, who do you find among the contributors? American Jews…

The view of an American Jew is of a sissy, and or feminist, who is totally assimilated, left wing and beleives anti-Israeli propaganda. Who would want to marry that?

Was I offended? No. Still love Israel. But i believe every stereotype has a grain of truth. We American Jews should look in the mirror more often…

Ury Vainsencher says:

So let me see:

a) Things are bad in Israel because the ultra Orthodox are imposing their lifestyle on the rest of us.

(Give me a while: after I finish my dinner of prosciutto ham, roquefort cheese and other assorted delicacies, I’ll go check. I am a bit tired from all the shopping I did today, on Shabat, at the neighborhood mall here in Kfar Saba).

Sorry, TJC, you can’t really report on Israel if all you did is visit the Epcot instance.

2) Israel is wrong by trying to attract back its own citizens (not American citizens), preferably those in the hi-tech sector who can do useful work back here and pay significant taxes, which most haredim don’t, so we need less American money (public and private). They might also vote out some of the Orthodox crazies, who so put you off, out of the Knesset. But we are wrong to do that, even if most of the ad material was in Hebrew (and unintelligible to most American Jews).

So it’s bad that the Orthodox are pushing the boundaries, and it’s bad that we push back.

I am telling you, it’s hard to be an Israeli Jew…

Whiplashed in Kfar Saba


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Israel Makes Its Case to Its Own

Immigration Ministry campaign targets nationals living in the States

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