web analytics
April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Dear American Jews


klita-ad

Share Button

Dear American Jews,

 

I wish to apologize in the name of the State of Israel. We have heard that our ad campaign encouraging ex-pat Israelis to come home has offended many of you. That was certainly not the intent, and if it did offend, we are sorry.

 

Israel created this ad campaign in order to address a major issue. We have almost a million Israelis living abroad, mostly in North America, and our tiny country, the one both you and we love so much, is in desperate need of man and women power to feed the economy, serve in the army, and buttress our demographic advantage, not to mention that the ingathering of the Jewish people from the four corners of the world is a central tenet of Zionism.

 

Alas, America’s magnetic pull has attracted many to leave the shores of the Holy Land in search of success and fortune and they have settled there.  Yet we want to call many of these Israelis back to Israel.

 

So how do we reach out to our fellow Israelis living in the US? What messaging resonates with this target demographic? Well, we can take the economic tack. Israel’s economy is booming, but the perception is still that its hard to make money here.  Maybe we should pursue the safe haven tack? That holds water for those few Israelis living in openly dangerous places, but it is hard to convince an Israeli living in Los Angeles or Boston that it is safer in Israel.

 

Then there is the family and culture tack. Israeli ex-pats may have left the homeland, but they remain deeply Israeli. They love and miss Ima’s Moroccan cooking, going on Miluim (IDF reserves), and most of all, they miss the holidays which do include national holidays like Yom HaAtzmaut and Yom HaZikaron. They care about their culture and they fear losing their connection to it.

 

And so, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption conceived of and executed a series of ads targeting Israeli sensibilities – to touch their hearts, make them miss home, remind them of the risk of cultural assimilation, and maybe, help convince them to come back.

 

Let us examine the 3 videos which were produced:

 

The first video features a boy trying to get his napping father’s attention. The child says aloud “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” But the father continues sleeping. Finally the boy whispers “Abba” and the father awakens and smiles.

 

The message is that the father responds to “Abba” because he is culturally Israeli, that is, in this case, someone who identifies more with Hebrew then English. The ad ends by saying that ex-pats will always remain culturally Israeli, however, their Diaspora born-children will not be.  The presumption is that this will cause pain because of the cultural rift, so instead, Israelis should come home.

 

While this ad is provocative, it certainly cannot be seen as offensive to American Jewry. It directly targets Israelis and asks them a tough question: Do you want your child to say Daddy or Abba? Fair enough.

 

If, however, American Jewry was offended at the idea that Hebrew may be more culturally Jewish than English, that is something certainly worth debating.  Clearly, Israelis living in Israel and abroad feel more comfortable with Hebrew and therefore the video is spot on.

 

The second video features a Skype conversation between two Israeli grandparents living in Israel and their older children who live in the US, now parents themselves. In between the young US couple sits the beloved granddaughter. The grandparents have Hanukkah paraphernalia in the background and ask their granddaughter, “Nu, so do you know what holiday it is?” to which the little girl proudly responds “Christmas!” The couples exchange uncomfortable glances.

 

Here, the Christmas/Hanukkah conflict is more sensitive than the Abba/Daddy dichotomy. This video touches on the problems of the decaying Jewish identity and the forces of cultural assimilation affecting American Jews and Israelis in America. Can there be any doubt that the powerful pop culture of America wreaks havoc on authentic Jewish or Israeli culture? Can anyone seriously claim that this video created boogie men where none existed? Why else would there be constant talk of funding Jewish education, Hillel houses, Birthright trips etc.? There is a real challenge to keep Jews Jewish today – who understands that better than American Jews?  This video unflinchingly addresses a phenomenon that afflicts all Jews living in America.

 

The video that has the most potential to offend is the third video. This is the one which led Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic to post the loud headline: “Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews.”

 

Let’s go to the videotape: in the ad a couple is seen entering a big city apartment. The room is dark, except for a single lit candle. The man tells the woman, “Now I understand why you didn’t want to go to the party” intimating that a romantic evening was planned by her. She, on the other hand, looks sad as she silently goes to her computer, where we see she is viewing a Yom HaZikaron (Israeli memorial day) website. As she quietly mourns the soldiers who have died to defend Israel, the young man asks “Dafna, what is this?”. The narrator says: “They will always stay Israeli, but their partner won’t – help them come home.”

Share Button

About the Author: Yishai Fleisher is the Contributing Editor and PR manager at the JewishPress.com, and Israel's only English language broadcast radio show host (Galey Yisrael 106.5FM). Yishai is an Israeli Paratrooper, a graduate of Cardozo Law School, and the founder of Kumah ("Arise" in Hebrew), an NGO dedicated to promoting Zionism and strengthening Israel's national character. Yishai is married to Malkah, they have two children, and they live on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

One Response to “Dear American Jews”

  1. Alice says:

    For years the Israeli government has been calling on American Jews to return home, only to be met with an almost blanket refusal. (Those of you who have made aliya or who truly wish to do so are a tiny minority). In the meantime the Israeli diaspora has grown, and the Israeli government is calling on those Jews to return home, and American Jews are insulted. It’s a little bit rich.

    To American Jews who are insulted by this campaign, you should get a grip and realise that it’s not about you. The whole of Israel is waiting for you to come home too, but you have chosen not to. We can’t force you to, but apparently you can force Israel not to call on Israeli Jews to come home. This is outrageous. Yischai Fleisher should not be apologising in the name of the State of Israel. He should be telling it like it is.

    Furthermore, so deeply ensconced in your dominant culture are you, you expose your ignorance about the experiences of ex-pat citizens anywhere in the world. Children are heavily influenced by their peers and the dominant culture. In an extreme case, I met an Italian woman married to a Japanese man, living in Japan, who could hardly communicate with her own children as their knowledge of Italian was limited, as was her Japanese. And as for the bruhaha about the Yom Hazikaron advert, just how many of the “insulted” commemorate the day and give respect to the Israeli war dead? The response is obvious. They are more likely to be attending a rally protesting the “plight of the Palestinians”.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Israeli soldiers closed off the area near where a terror attack occurred  near Hevron on Passover eve, in search of the terrorists.
Netanyahu: PA Incitement Caused Pre-Passover Terror Attack
Latest Indepth Stories
Lebovic-041814

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Benveniste-041814

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

Dann-041814

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

Not one world leader holds Abbas accountable for his part in the breakdown of negotiations.

The 1948 re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty was a modern day Exodus and Parting of the Sea.

Spies who caused American deaths and worked for enemy states received lighter sentences than Pollard.

Christie’s “good friend” is an Imam who supports murderers of Jews and defames Israel and Christians.

One grey night it happened, Bibi caved no more
& Poof that Foggy Bottomer, he vanished from our sight

More Articles from Yishai Fleisher
(Images borrowed from the crate labels of American grown oranges)

It is easy to spot Haman in today’s world, but who is this year’s Esther?

Ambassador Dermer’s thoughts on what is ahead in the coming years between Israel and the USA.

The date for the end of one fruit crop and the beginning of the next is the 15th day of Shvat.

Well, Subaru, you stood up to tyranny in the past, and this Chanukah you shine once again.

Tears come down as I ponder the history of the self-sacrifice that this place engenders in our people.

At least 6-8 of my close friends left Israel over the course of the last seven years.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/dear-american-jews/2011/12/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: