Friend-of-The-Scroll Steven I. Weiss of The Jewish Channel noticed a “semi-covert” ad campaign in at least five American metropolitan areas—New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Palo Alto, and Boston— targeting Israelis and encouraging them to move back to Israel. “Before ‘Aba’ Is Changed Into Daddy, The Time Has Come To Return to Israel,” reads a billboard, in Yvrit, in Hollywood, Florida (translations are TJC’s). A television commercial shows an English-speaking boyfriend not understanding his Israeli girlfriend’s remembrance of fallen Israeli soldiers, and closes with the line: “They will always remains Israelis, their partners won’t always understand what this means. Help them return to Israel.” Another TV spot shows a young girl video-chatting with her Israeli grandparents and telling them that she is celebrating … Christmas. Indeed, the diversity of appeals suggests that the impetus is to persuade warm Jewish bodies to make their homes in the Jewish state, no matter the reason. Which would make sense: As Weiss points out, Israel’s Ministry for Immigration, which launched the campaign, is most famous for encouraging American Jews to make aliyah (remember this?).
The so-called Returning Home Project offers “Tax concessions” and “Incentives for starting a business.” The Israelis in the ads wear normal dress; the men do not wear kippot. The two smallest cities targeted are Palo Alto, Calif., the home of Stanford University, and Boston—in other words, two of America’s three largest hubs for tech companies (the third being NYC). In other words, the campaign seems pretty clearly to be an effort to recruit nonreligious Israelis back: a provocative notion for those who believe that the increasingly religious character of Israeli society is leading to a diaspora of young, secular Israelis from Tel Aviv to Silicon Valley, Cambridge, and Brooklyn. Perhaps that is part of why the usually publicity-happy Immigration Ministry has, as Weiss reports, kept extremely mum about this campaign: “Other than the actual marketing,” Weiss reports, “no communication has been sent out.” In his weekly segment, Weiss’ next item is “how difficult it has become to live in Israel unless one maintains an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle.”
Watch the report here:
Week in Review: November 25, 2011 [The Jewish Channel]
Earlier: Ad Calls Non-Israeli Jews ‘Lost’
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.