Ruffling our American Jewish cousins’ feathers
So, the TV ads launched by Israel’s Ministry of Absoption to convince expatriate Israelis to come home that Brian wrote about here, have been cancelled by none other than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanayahu.
The question I have is whether the initial reactions to the ads went overboard, and whether the scuttling of the campaign was an equally knee-jerk reaction. In both of the ads Brian posted, there’s nothing remotely offensive to either American Christians or American Jews, the two groups that critics of the ads claimed were denigrated.
The first one shows a forlorn Israeli woman pondering Yom Hazikaron (Israel Remembrance Day) and the fallen soldiers she likely knew during her life, while her American partner (it’s totally ambiguous whether he’s Jewish or not) appears to be clueless about the holiday and his partner’s feelings.
That’s pretty accurate, from my experience. The rhythm of American life has nothing to do with the rhythm of Israeli life. And you don’t have to delve into a one-sided holiday like Remembrance Day to realize it. Unless you’re an American who lives and breathes Israel – and let’s face it, the number of those are not on the rise these days – then you’re not going to be able to tap into the psyche and complexities that make up the Israeli way of life.
Unless you have a relative who died, Memorial Day in the US is meant for Red Flag sales in stores, a day off from work, and picnics. How can an American understand the manner in which Remembrance Day in Israel becomes part of the nation’s fabric and affects everyone, from the ceremonies in the schools, to the music on the radio?
The other ad Brian referred to is even more innocuous – a young son trying to wake his Israeli father with “Daddy”, but succeeding only when he changes the call to “Abba.” The morale? If you’re an Israeli, you stay an Israeli no matter where you are and how American you raise your kids. Again, that sounds pretty accurate to me.
It seems, instead, like the critics of the campaign have some deep-seated issues of insecurity. Maybe the ads are a little too close to home for assimilated American Jewry who see their heritage also slipping away as intermarriage rises. I didn’t see anything against American Jewry in the ads I saw – I wonder what they saw.
And although it’s understandable that the government wants to now sweep the sensitive issue under the rug, as it has seemed to have struck a nerve with our American cousins, it’s just a matter of time until it resurfaces.