The ads were supposed to be directed at expats. Instead they have created a firestorm in the American Jewish community. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has ordered that the campaign be pulled after several large Jewish American groups protested.
Israel's offending advertising campaign which was supposed to call on expatriates to return to their homeland, has instead created a flow of ill-will from American Jews. The perceived offense was so egregious that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now pulled the ads.
The spots (see video) ran on Israeli channels in the US that emigrants are usually drawn to, featuring dramatic scenes of Jews trying to assimilate into gentile settings. In one, an Israeli couple looks lovingly at their grandchild, but when they ask her what Jewish holiday is happening, and she says Christmas, they are dismayed.
US blogger, Jeffrey Goldberg with the Atlantic was critical,
"I don't think I have ever seen a demonstration of Israeli contempt for American Jews as obvious as these ads."
Goldberg's sentiments were shared by several American Jewish groups that lodged complaints.
The UK Daily Telegraph reports that the largest Jewish community outside of Israel resides in the United States and religious assimilation is common. Israel looks to American Jews for their support, both monetarily and philosophically, but some US citizens are displeased with Israel's increasingly rightist tilt and strains in its ties with Washington.
Complaints about the ad campaign reached the top levels of both governments. The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren brought the dismissive nature of the campaign to the attention of his Prime Minister,
"The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption's campaign clearly did not take into account American Jewish sensibilities, and we regret any offense it caused. The campaign, which aimed to encourage Israelis living abroad to return home, was a laudable one, and it was not meant to cause insult. The campaign was conducted without the knowledge or approval of the prime minister's office or of the Israeli embassy in Washington. Prime Minister Netanyahu, once made aware of the campaign, ordered the videos immediately removed from YouTube, and he ordered that the billboards be removed as well. The prime minister deeply values the American Jewish community and is committed to deepening ties between it and the State of Israel."
MSNBCToday reports that Saturday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered that the ads be yanked "immediately" upon hearing of the controversy they caused. His spokesman Mark Regev, said.
"The government of Israel is very attuned to the sensitivities of the American Jewish community."