Nostalgia Sunday – A Good Old Fashioned Aliya Campaign
The latest flippity flap to get everyone’s knickers in a bunch — including mine (ouch) — was The Jewish Channel’s report of the so-called “semi-covert” ad campaign on billboards, YouTube and The Israeli Channel. (I am at a loss to explain how use of these publicly available platforms makes a campaign in any way covert, semi- demi- or otherwise).
The campaign is targeted at Israelis living in the US with the aim of guilting them into going home. As the daughter of one such mixed marriage — sabra Israeli mother, nice Jewish-American boy father — I can say with surety that the ads were absolutely on-message, that is to say, my sisters and I witnessed in real-life, all of the scenarios depicted in the videos.
The American-Jewish reaction, as everyone Jewishly or Israeli-ly involved now knows, was to take umbrage, with an emphasis on the second syllable. Since the ads were not targeted towards American Jews, the extreme reaction — among other things, accusing the Ministry of negative stereotyping, “luring expats” and “scare tactics” — is interesting.
More to the point, the target audience — Israelis living abroad — found the ads an insult to their intelligence. This may be so. No professional ad agency has yet come forth to take credit for the campaign so maybe it was indeed devised solely by thumb-twiddling bureaucrats tootling up and down the Ministry’s corridors. What I do find amazing is that this Ministry — so ineffectual at drumming up North American aliya that the job was handed over in part to outfits like Nefesh b’Nefesh — decided to do anything at all.
As to whether or not the campaign would have served to get the expats a-packing, I cannot say and we will never find out because it was pulled — by no less than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — although at this moment it still exists on the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s website. FYI.
Anyway… it’s time to take a deep breath and look back on the images that put forth positive messages, ones which made us truly, madly, deeply want to come to Israel, to make aliya*. This was one of my favorites:
Here, the Ministry tries to be hip… with Hippies!
Now THIS is messaging!
Even then, companies like Rolnik Publishers often did a better job of conveying the aliya message than the Ministry itself. Who can forget these iconic images?
All the preceding, with the exception of the Rolnik images, come from the Palestine Poster Project Archives, an online collection of posters published by 1) International artists and agencies; 2) Zionist and Israeli artists and agencies; 3) Palestinian nationalist artists and agencies; 4) Arab and Muslim artists and agencies.
* Aliya and aliya alone. In those days yordim were shunned, reviled and condemned for desertion, instead of courted with pricey ad campaigns linked to websites with boatloads of benefits for returning residents. When my mother, an Israel Consulate employee in the early 1950s, announced her engagement, there was serious discussion as to whether she would be able to retain her Israeli citizenship.