December 2nd, 2011
04:12 PM ET
Israel pulls ads wooing expats after Jewish criticism
By Heather M. Higgins, CNN
(CNN) - The ad shows a young girl on her mother’s lap, video-chatting with her grandparents, who live in Israel and who are pictured with four candles burning brightly on a menorah behind them.
When the Jewish grandmother asks the child what holiday it is, she replies “Christmas!” instead of Hanukkah; the joy drains from the grandparents’ faces as they turn to each other in disappointment.
This Hebrew-language spot, titled, “It's time to return to Israel before Hanukkah becomes Christmas,” was removed from the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s YouTube channel Friday after it unleashed criticism from many Jews.
Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, told CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux on Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that the ad, and a handful of others like it, be taken down.
“The prime minister’s office knew nothing about these ads,” Oren said. “They weren’t brought to the prime minister’s office for approval, we had no knowledge of them, and as soon they were brought to my attention, I brought them to the prime minister’s attention this morning, and he immediately ordered them brought down.”
But two of the Web-based ads, sponsored by the Israeli government as part of the a campaign to invoke nostalgia among Israeli expatriates, were still running on the absorption ministry’s YouTube channel on Friday afternoon.
The video ads went live in September as part of a broader campaign by Israel targeting Israelis abroad. The ads have appeared in Britain, France, Australia and other countries but created a firestorm this week after Atlantic blogger Jeffrey Goldberg wrote about them.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League - which combats anti-Semitism – was among the critics.
According to the Israeli immigrant absorption ministry, the ads were inspired by focus groups sponsored by the Jewish state that revealed that many Israelis in America miss home.
Critics said the videos went further, offering a none-too-subtle warning about Jewish life in America and sending the message that Israelis should return home if they want to ensure that their children remain Jewish.
“I’m disappointed in our government,” Seth Farber, an American-born Orthodox rabbi who is founder of the Israeli-based ITIM: The Jewish-Life Information Center, said of the ad campaign.
“It is one thing to touch a nerve. It’s another to be fatalistic,” Farber said. “Why send a message that you’re going to lose everything if you don’t come home, when there are so many beautiful and positive reasons for wanting to move to Israel?”
The Israeli’s government adopted a resolution in 2010 encouraging the return of Israelis abroad.
After conducting market research in cities like New York and Los Angeles about what Israelis miss while living abroad, the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption launched an $800,000 ad campaign timed to coincide with Rosh Hashanah and the other Jewish High Holidays, which began in September.
“The ads are not from our frantic minds but directly from the focus groups we conducted,” Elad Sonn, spokesman for the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, said Thursday.
Another ad on the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s website depicts an Israeli girl mourning on Israel’s Memorial Day, Yom HaZikaron, while her American boyfriend remains ignorant to its significance.
The title at the top of another ad reads, “It's time to return to Israel before Abba becomes Daddy,” and it shows a little boy whose sleeping father won’t wake up until the boy calls him “Abba,” the Hebrew word for daddy.
“They will always be Israelis. Their children won't. Help them return to Israel,” says the narrator at the end of the ad with the boy. Both those ads were still on the ministry’s YouTube channel Friday afternoon.
In addition to the Web-based ads, the Israeli campaign included nine billboards in the U.S., with signs in Miami and Palo Alto, California, and ads in Hebrew-language newspapers in places with large concentrations of Israelis. The billboard ads were up a little more than a month, until early November.
But Farber says the ads are not representative of the experience of Israeli expats.
“I know many Israeli expats who feel very connected to Israel,” he said.
Some Israelis living in the United States echoed that view.
“Israelis know what they want, so by coming to the U.S., they aren't looking to change their values, traditions and religious beliefs, but they are looking for something different than what they have in their country,” said Neta Yoffe, a director of corporate communications for a media company in New York.
Yoffe, an Israeli with dual citizenship, has lived in the U.S. for 26 years and said the ads reflect negatively on Israelis living abroad.
“Israel is already viewed as an outsider by the world, and these ads just make things worse by representing Israel as arrogant and self-important,” she said.
The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption has issued a statement apologizing to American Jews, and Sonn communicated a similar message.
“If anyone is offended, we’re sorry,” said Sonn, who openly acknowledged the emotional nature of the campaign. “We did not intend this to be directed at the American Jewish community. We respect it, and we work with it."
When asked about the implications of assimilation and intermarriage, Sonn continued, “It is none of our business who an Israeli should or could marry. It’s an insult to our intelligence to take it to that place.”
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
"Christmas," is a universal holiday.openly become their Christmas. Their are more than 70 prophecies that proves Jesus is the Christ.
Bwaaaahhhh Haaaaaaa! You are ridiculous. Not that I have anything positive to say about the ads mentioned in this story, and in fact, do find them offensive. This person "RIch" is just comical. There were prophecies...so it's TRUE! That's as absurd and weak as an argument can be. Besides...what was it you are trying to argue, anyway?
However the lamb lying down with the lion isn't one of them. I don't see world peace either. Jesus wasn't even born on Christmas. Christmas is in reality a consumer Holiday marked by consumption of goods instead of prayer and fasting.
And there are well over 700 contradictions in the Bible and 70 million atheists who disagree with you and can prove you're wrong about anything in the Bible anyway. Why bother to post such lies when lying is wrong?
What's the big deal – we can no longer say "Merry Christmas" or have Christmas written anywhere or referred to in the US, for fear of ultimately (enter slippery slope here) being labelled "anti-semite". Frankly, this ad makes perfect sense given how badly things have changed here. Merry Christmas everyone.
Yeah, Christians are so oppressed and persecuted.
Happy Holidays! 🙂
Straw man argument. Nobody is prohibited from saying Merry Christmas.
I don't know where you live, but here in Oklahoma...if you say you don't celebrate Christmas you face persecution.
Are you nuts?
It seems to me God can’t get anything right...makes you think.
Seems to me that god made everything right and that we humans keep messing it up...think of it this way 4 a while....
Seems to me God didn't make anything.
God has created the universe but it is you who is totally blind or color blind...so wipe your face well might you become to see clearly...!
Muneef, you hurt me with your words.
You started the hurting although I hate to use hurting words but you pushed me into it...
The more I read about Israel, the more and more I'm convinced it's political system rivals that of fascist nazi Germany. The zenophobia and oppression of minorities based on religious creed, the occupation of lands that are not theirs, giving preferential treatment to certain segments of their society while demanding more and taking from other segments. I'm not saying ALL the people of Israel are fascists (I don't believe in absolutes), but the overall jist of what their gov't does and how it behaves becomes more and more similar to well what the Jews fled 70 years ago. I'm completely and entirely for the complete cessation of military and foreign aid to Israel as I believe they have hijacked America's foreign policy and politics for far to long. I just want to also say, I have Jewish friends and I love all people, which is why when I see what Israel does it's somewhat disheartening.
I am disheartened.
The fact that you can't spell "xenophobia", you pretend to not hate Jews, and paint the entire country "fascist" seems to show more that you're a bigot than anything else.
Disagree with Israeli policy all you want, but calling them Nazis and fascists is almost beyond the pale.
Hopefully American jews will realize that they are Americans first and Jews second, when it comes to thinking about what is in America's best national interest. Our congress has been enslaved to the Jewish lobby (AIPAC) for way too long. As a result, we spend blood and treasure in areas of the world and in conflicts that have little to do with protecting America and everything to do with maintaining Israel's hegemony in the Middle East. No wonder we are hated in most of the Middle East, every piece of landgrab by Israelis and every Palestinian cast out into the desert is seen as an abuse made possible by the 2Billion plus we give them in cash, plus 2 Billion in weapons annually. We are supporting a nation that is poised to potentially become as religiously extremist as Iran, but more dangerous because it is presently hiding behind the veneer of a democratic state and with nuclear weapons at the ready.
They just want to be our friend.
Exactly...wait until Israel unilaterally decides to attack Iran. We'll be drawn in from the AIPAC supporters to make sure we shed American blood protecting Israel's interest.
JFritz – as an Israeli I just don't get what you're saying. The ad was pulled because it was insulting to Jews (of which I am one – and am duly insulted) – not because it was religiously ethno-centric.
Hannukah is not really a religious holiday (though rabbis of the past did put religious elements into it). It's a historical holiday celebrating the fight for freedom from oppression. In Israel – it's a fun, national event – where everyone eats too much and gives small gifts. It's usually enjoyed by non-Jewish Israelis as well (some of whom are celebrating Christmas at the same time).
There is no excuse for the Ministry of Absorption to have put out that ad. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't speak to Jewish values. It was likely the brain-child of some fanatical minister in government who's terrified by the thought that secular Jews exist, thrive and love both their homeland and other nations – are curious about and respectful of other traditions.
Any chance your last name is Burger?
Just curious – does "respectful of other traditions" include Ramadam? Because I'm sure that some people who live on the West Bank who can't celebrate that holiday together because of an arbitrary wall coupled with armed checkpoints would disagree with you...
The Israeli govt is trying to turn the illegal occupation/settlement in to the biggest cult known in the history of cults. They are no better than the Taliban and Alqaeda. They have the same ideology either your one of them or your not and they kill you.
Kill kill kill!!!!
You should be first of all
They keel you!
Didn't Germany before or during WWII call for all Germans to return to Das Vaterland ?
They are now too. Birthrate issues. Hopefully it works b/c if Germany can't increase educated population growth, it's internal consumption will not maintain economic growth strong enough to power out of this recession and we may see another one strike.
Amazing! Israel runs ads to encourage Jews to come to Israel and CCN gets a raft of anti-semitic comments. ...remindes me why it's important that Israel exists in the first place...
To create fears of wars and keep the sales of weapons on the rise to the rich middle eastern oil countries and that's why...beside other spiritual beliefs of the building of the temple and the return of Jesus...!
One problem I've noticed in attempting to discuss middle-east issues with Muslims posting on CNN is the fact that you can never be on the same page in order to start the discussion.
What i mean is that the Muslims will always deny that:
1) Islamic terrorism is a real, major, widespread, global problem.
(they say it's Jews, US govt, etc, conspiracies that do the terrorist acts, incl 911).
2) They deny that Israel is a democracy.
3) They say that the light-skinned Jews and Israelis are European "imposters" whose ancestors never lived in Palestine, i.e., there are no true "Children of Israel" descended from the Old Testament patriarchs.
4) They're always totally respectful when mentioning Bible prophets (e.g., Moses (pbuh – peace be upon him), but when they mention the same prophets within a Judeo-Christian framework, they totally insult and disrespect Moses, etc.
Conclusion: how can these Muslims expect to engage Jews or Christians in respectful dialog? Are there any Muslim CNN posters who are moderate enough to do this?
Great questions, let's see if you get answers.
As long as Israel refuses to grant the right of franchise to the Arabs living in Occupied Palestine it cannot be considered a Democracy. When the United states wrested control of the Southwest from Mexico after the Mexican War, all the Latinos in those areas became American citizens by default and were granted the same franchise as the Anglo occupiers. Israel has had over 40 years to either declare them citizens of Israel or grant them an independent homeland and have done neither.
Hi Joe, you seem to be uninformed about the situation in Israel, and so it is my pleasure to correct your misinformed beliefs. These beliefs may stir in you either anti-Israel or possibly anti-Semetic sentiments within you, so hopefully with your newfound knowledge, such feelings can subside.
The fact of the matter is that Arabs in Israel are citizens and have full voting rights, and if the current birthrate keeps up, they are even poised to overtake the Jewish population. That being said, I am sure if you took a couple seconds out of your day to look it up on Google or elsewhere, you would see that the Israeli parliament has Arab members, with full voting and legislature rights in there as well. You will not find such a situation with Jewish lawmakers in any Arab country.
I hope this information has enlightened you and lifted the burden of hate and/or misinformation from your soul.
What in the last 2,000 years has occurred that makes you believe the Muslims are remotely interested in engaging in any constructive dialog with the Jews? Muslims are very good at three thing : killing ; denial;, and waiting. They will out last the US in Afghanistan . In the middle east, the most radical Muslims will eventually rise to power through any democratic process. Its all a matter of time.
"1) Islamic terrorism is a real, major, widespread, global problem.
(they say it's Jews, US govt, etc, conspiracies that do the terrorist acts, incl 911)."
Islamic terrorism didn't exist until their brethen's land were stolen in broad day light while making the victims look the perpetrators.
"2) They deny that Israel is a democracy."
Hahahahahahahah...hahahahahahaha Isael is a democracy..hahahahahahahahah.
"3) They say that the light-skinned Jews and Israelis are European "imposters" whose ancestors never lived in Palestine, i.e., there are no true "Children of Israel" descended from the Old Testament patriarchs."
Isn't that the fact?These so called Jews (especially the atheists) had no business going there w/ the excuse of the biblical story.
") They're always totally respectful when mentioning Bible prophets (e.g., Moses (pbuh – peace be upon him), but when they mention the same prophets within a Judeo-Christian framework, they totally insult and disrespect Moses, etc.
Conclusion: how can these Muslims expect to engage Jews or Christians in respectful dialog? Are there any Muslim CNN posters who are moderate enough to do this?"
Muslims never disrespect Moses or Jesus, period moron. Your propaganda is too obvious.
Hey man i dont know what ur talking about but if a person claims to be a muslim then he or she has to respect a 100% and believe a 100% without doubt that MOSES pbuh , JESUSpbuh, IBRAHIMpbuh, ISMAELpbuh, Muhammadpbuh and all others are prophets of God sent to mankind to show man kind the right path, no matter which holy book they are mentioned in no matter which religion they are mentioned in. If person does not believe in above that person is not a muslim. Secondly its not ISLAMIC TERRORISM, its terrorism from people who claim to be muslims and take out of context the teachings of islam and use them in the wrong, islamically prohibited actions. You should know your doing the same thing. Have you ever read the Quran? Read it with translation and understand it with help of someone who know what the Quran is saying. Then you'll see what these freaks are doing.
Amanda-Islamic terrorism didn't exist until their brethen's land were stolen in broad day light while making the victims look the perpetrators.
-That is a good justification for terrorism.
They deny Israel is a democracy
-If it is a democracy why laugh like an idiot?
As an American, I find it flattering that Israel feels the need to resort to such tactics in their attempts to pry their people from our country. Even as messed up as we seem to be right now, Israel recognizes our greatest asset – our ability to still serve as the "great melting pot" and allow people of all races and religions to become a part of our rich, mixed bag culture.
Well said. Smell a racist odor in these ads.
I am sorry but people do not need to get "pryed away". I went down to California for a couple weeks (drove through-out State) and honestly I felt really sorry about what I saw. You guys are in rough shape.
k-canuck, we are in a bad way, aren't we? But so are you. Isn't it nice we can all commiserate like political prisoners trading jokes in the prison yard?
It looks like Israel has a Ministry of Immigrant Promotion, rather than a Ministry of Immigant Absorption. With Israel expanding beyond its borders into historically Arabic parts of Jeruselum and Palestine, Israel's efforts to increase immigation raises the question whether the occuption of Palestine is for security, as claimed, or the desire for more land and water.
Well, isn't it obvious that it (Israeli expansion) is for more land and water?
Agree with you very much although it is in this order ( for more Water and Lands ) while every body is fighting for Oil they are fighting for more Waters depriving it's neighboring countries and with an ambition to extend it's outreach to the Nile and the rivers of Babylon...
The Hebes don't want their children marrying American Jews, but they don't mind taking American money! Thanks to Jimmy Carter, we pay them and Egypt billions every year with no questions asked! With this example of contempt and Egypt now leaning toward a fundamentalist government, it is high time to cut both of them off and use the money for our own needs here at home!
They're declaring "War on Christmas!"
I hate Christmas and I am not a Jew. Is that bad?
That’s like saying you hate presents? It’s bad.
Attack all the things!
The significance of Christmas is that its the first day after the solstice when its possible to perceive days getting longer. Like other pagan festivals it got absorbed by Christianity and adapted to its needs and mythology. Modern Christmas is really a secular holiday with the new mythology (Santa/Elves/Reindeer/Dickensian London/Snow) dating from the late 19th century.
I agree the Christians hi-jacked a pagan date, but you can't say it is a pagan holiday. By definition it is a Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ. The word Christmas originated as a compound meaning "Christ's Mass". Other than you seem really smart.
It's neither a pagan nor christian holiday now – it's an economic holiday.
Nothing new here. Throughout humanity ideas and traditions of the past have been carried forward in some form to build something new. You may think humans incredibly 'creative' in coming up with 'brand new' ideas but that just isn't so. Therefore, the notion that anything that 'borrows' from the past makes it irrelevent would make everything we do, believe and seek irrelevant. You may have a point here.
"Christmas," is a universal holiday. For Jews today who do not believe "Jesus" was the Christ, still wait for the day that will openly become their Christmas. Their are more than 70 prophecies that proves Jesus is the Christ. Many still turn a blind eye to history. The first Saints of teh Catholic Church are all Jewish. Mary is the highest of all the Catholic Saints, being a Jewish woman who carried the Lord in her womb. I converted to Catholicism in 1977 after being a Rabbi all my life, it was the Miracle at Fatima, Portugal that moved me to Christianity. My family abandoned me during my early conversion, but time heals wounds. Christmas is a day that many Jews should celebrate, even if they don't believe in Jesus, because it marks a festival of holy proportions for the "Christ," announced by Yaweh to Isiah. At the solemn age of 72 I find myself still learning about the pleasant and wonderful feeling of being Jewish and following Jesus Christ to the Promised Land. Merry Christmas to all my Jewish friends.
You don't need to delve that far into it. Simple answer is; religion is a load of crap.
It is a common misconception that Jews are waiting for a "messiah". Some may be, most are not. It was a fallacy perpetrated in Sunday school. Your prophesies "prove" NOTHING. The fact is, many of the elements of the gospels were written in, in order to indicate that the writer *thought* the prophesy had been fulfilled. Jesus' brother, James, was a good Jew, and battled fiercely with the Pauline Camp, about the need for "Jewishness". Paul had NEVER spoken to Jesus. James had, many times. Paul changed the whole ball of wax, and HE started the new "church". Both movements are based on the preosterous notion that there is an angry god, (one of the MANY, which the OT Jews knew about and believed in, but according to their "covenant" agreed not to worship, (for many centuries the Semites worshiped Yahweh's wife Ashura). The concept that a small backwards culture from a tiny section of one plant, from an average galaxy, among billions, wrote a book which self-appointed themselves to be "special", is SO off the wall, it merits not a moment of time for consideration. (Of course they are the "chosen people", THEY wrote the damn book, and "granted" themselves their "promised" land). Am glad you feel so solemn in your old age, but, it's basically ALL in your head, and there is NOT ONE shred of evidence for any of it. There is very little, if no, difference in believing that offering up bullocks vs the son, somehow is more effective, in calming the wrath of the ancient angry god, (or his wife). 😈
If Jewish people want to go back to Israel, then by all means go home. Jewish people do not seem to feel they owe anything to America and the USA should be here for the interest of Israel. It would be interesting to see how much American money is funneled to Israel through Jewish people in America. Not to mention the Billions of American tax dollars that go to Israel every year without any choice by the American people. If American dollars were not sent to other countries, our countries economy would be better off then it is now.
Please explain what Jewish people owe America above what any other American's owe America. do I, as an American Jew (born American) have a greater debt to our country than you? I don't understand. Maybe you are confusing the words Jewish and Israeli?
We can stop involuntarily sending money to Israel by voting for Congressmen and Senators who will publicly vow to not do so. Unfortunately, they are so terrified of the American-Israeli Lobby that they wouldn't dare say that in public. The great irony is we politically and isolated South Africa and Serbia for doing the same things Israel does (ethnic cleansings and apartheid) but we refuse to take the same sanctions against them due to the sanctimonious preachings of Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian Republican politicians.
You're wrong. Jewish American's love America.
Con-artists always love their victims for being so dumb.
Jews have had a HUGE impact on America as a whole. Jews have made huge contributions to America. For example, Chaim Solomon a wealthy Jew helped fund the American Revolution. Had it not been for him, we may not have won the war. And he died a poor man. There have been tons of important inventions by American Jews. Not only that, but God Bless America, one of America's most important patriotic songs was written by a Jew. Jews have made plenty of contributions to the United States so it's unfair to act like they owe more than anyone else.
And what have you done for us lately? Oh, you've helped us damage the economy and the world economy. I guess you owe us again. Better get to work.
If jews in America "miss home".....great! They should go home and stay there! Good riddance.
As an American Jew I'm totally offended by your racist comment.
ann, what is it that makes my comment racist? I never mentioned Jews as a race. I know plenty of black and white people who are of the Jewish faith. You are more than welcome to be offended by my comment. I am offended by your ignorance.
Jews are a race, and Jews are genetically closer to Africans to whites, you ignoramus. If you don't like sharing America with Jews – than you leave. We love our country.
By the way, Hawailiduude, Jews do not call jesus a heritic. We don't call him anything. Jesus is not a part of Judaism any more than Mohamed is a part of Christianity. I don't know if he ever existed and have no interest. He certainly did not fulfill the Jewish bible's predictions for what the Messiah would do so could not have been the Messiah that the Jews predicted. I don't hate Jesus. I just don't care one way or the other about your religion's stories. To me they are stories and nothing more. Unfortunately, these stories cause people like you to grow up to be full of hate instead of the love that they could inspire if you read your bible a different way. Jesus, if he did exist, would not preach what you are saying.
I couldn't have said it better myself, Beth!
well without blood than can be no sacrifice for sins... if Jesus did not fulfill your law and prophets, you guys better get back to sacrificing those animals or I am afraid you will die in your sins! 🙂 kind of hard to rewrite your old testament to stop sacrificing simply because you have no temple.. u have space... either way.. the old testament obv requires blood sacrifice.. no modern jewish leader can just change that for fun...
That's what Sheep were provided for...to blood scarifies as was Prophet Abraham instructed to do and which ever since Muslims been following sacrificing sheep every time and distributing it's meat to their families and the needy who can not afford it some do it every Friday or on religious occasions...
found this link about my topic..interesting..
What was to become modern Judaism took a different approach, and found a new way to stay on the old path. The rabbis extended the pharisaic concept that the experience of God was not contingent on the Temple.
Samaritans adhered to their old ways. They maintained the practices of sacrifice outside Jerusalem. To this day, each year on Passover Eve, the Samaritans climb to the summit of Mount Gerizim and re-enact the Passover sacrifice that preceded the Exodus from Egypt. They pitch tents and sacrifice seven lambs, whose meat they roast over an open fire, exactly as prescribed in the Bible–a tradition roughly 3,500 years old.
And what does that get them? Just a fun camping experience. No results from YHWH, just the same old crap.
If I am going to move out of the US it would to be somewhere cool like Barcelona or Venice. Why would anyone, Jewish or otherwise, want to go live in that hell hole?
Why is it okay to bash Israel? Only Jews and Israelis can be maligned with impunity. Antisemitism is blessed by CNN – gross. Try saying these kinds of things about any other religion or race. Shameful.
Ok, I am going to try....All religions suck. There I did it. I don't believe in "race". Humans are humans.
U must be joking??? girl... if you say anything, even not intending it to be a slur, jewish police come out of no where and call you an anti semite! heck.. if u disagree with a Jew or rightly criticize Israel they call u anti Semite... obviously those that do that are simply using an intimidation tactic but they do it well!.. and besides arabs are semites too.. Jesus was a Jew and Paul was too.. Paul was a cool jew. Still, I can criticize Israel all day (their small ruling govt and right that abuses their foreign policy and uses the United States as suckers).. but I used to blindly like them only since I read the bible. Once I started paying attention to what the modern nation does, its history, and its bullying tactics, its not hard to criticize. Still, I equally criticise the states, at it is almost worse as it (washington) tries to hide its evil... at least if u watch Israel, u can see it right there..
Please come back to Israel so we can build settlements for you in the West Bank and Gaza before it is Christmas......