This post has been updated. This post originally stated that there are 2 million Israelis living in the U.S., a figure cited by the Jewish Channel. The 2010 U.S. census reports that there are approximately 128,000. This version has been corrected.
The Israeli government has canceled an ad campaign in which it suggested that Israeli expatriates will “lose their national identities” if they marry Jewish Americans or celebrate Christmas.
Goldberg had been harshly critical of the campaign, writing earlier this week: “The message is, Dear American Jews, thank-you for lobbying for American defense aid ... but, please, stay away from our sons and daughters.” The Jewish Channel, which broke the story, called it a “semi-covert national campaign.”
After receiving a number of complaints about the ads, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) issued the following statement:
While we recognize the motivations behind the ad campaign, we are strongly opposed to the messaging that American Jews do not understand Israel. We share the concerns many of you have expressed that this outrageous and insulting message could harm the Israel-Diaspora relationship.
Israeli news site YnetNews gives some insight into what might have spurred the campaign: Data released by Knesset Information and Research Center earlier this month revealed a “dramatic upsurge” in mixed marriages among Jewish communities abroad, with an increase of more than 200 percent during the past 50 years.
Campaign billboards were spotted in Boston, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Calif., New York and Hollywood, Fla., and a series of three videos from the Ministry’s Web site have been watched by thousands on YouTube.
In the first ad, which features an Israeli woman and her American boyfriend, the boyfriend mistakes his girlfriend’s observance of Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s day of mourning, for a desire to have a romantic, candle-lit evening together.
‘They will always remain Israelis. Their partners won’t always understand what this means,” a voice-over says at the end.
In the second ad, a child is shown trying to wake his father from a nap. The child gets no response until he uses the word “Abba” instead of “Daddy.”
Again, the voice-over: “Before ‘Abba’ is changed into ‘Daddy,’ the time has come to return to Israel.”
In the final ad, Israeli grandparents seated next to a menorah talk with their children and granddaughter on Skype. When they ask their granddaughter what holiday it is, she cries out, “Christmas!”
The grandparents’ expressions say it all:
Business Insider magazine responded to the final video by calling Netanyahu the “International Grinch.”
In 2009, a similar ad campaign against Jewish assimilation, co-sponsored by the Israeli government, was pulled after it provoked outrage among Israelis living abroad.
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