Friday, December 2, 2011

Goldberg on the Israeli Media Campaign

Goldberg has just noticed the Israeli campaign to encourage Israelis abroad to return to Israel (I wrote about it weeks ago):

"I don't think I have ever seen a demonstration of Israeli contempt for American Jews as obvious as these ads. I understand the impulse behind them: Israel wants as many of its citizens as possible to live in Israel. This is not an abnormal desire. But the way it is expressed, in wholly negative terms, is somewhat appalling. How about, "Hey, come back to Israel, because our unemployment rate is half that of the U.S.'s"? Or, "It's always sunny in Israel"? Or, "Hey, Shmulik, your mother misses you"? 
These government-sponsored ads suggest that it is impossible for Jews to remain Jewish in America. How else are we supposed to understand the "Christmas" ad? Obviously, assimilation and intermarriage are issues in America in ways they aren't in Israel. Israel has other problems of course, such as the fact that many of its rabbis act like Iranian mullahs. (I'm not even going to try to unpack my complicated beliefs about intermarriage and assimilation and life in the Diaspora here; that's for a book. But let me just say that intermarriage can also be understood as an opportunity.)
The idea, communicated in these ads, that America is no place for a proper Jew, and that a Jew who is concerned about the Jewish future should live in Israel, is archaic, and also chutzpadik (if you don't mind me resorting to the vernacular). The message is: Dear American Jews, thank you for lobbying for American defense aid (and what a great show you put on at the AIPAC convention every year!) but, please, stay away from our sons and daughters.

The one point that I think is arguable, is that the ad isn't against Israelis married to American Jews, but rather married to non Jews. I am not sure why this story has suddenly woken up now. Perhaps they have only just started running the ads in the USA?

Andrew Sullivan has taken it one step further, with a post "Netanyahu's War On Christmas" - explaining that this is a sign of how paranoid Israel has become. This is clearly going a step too far - it is not paranoia. The ad is not really attacking American Jews, so much as showing the Israeli misunderstanding of the diaspora communities.
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