Controversial Israeli Ad Campaign Pulled

by JG

A highly controversial ad campaign encouraging Israelis living in the Diaspora to move back to Israel, and to not marry non-Israelis, has been pulled. Created by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the campaign offended both Israelis and American Jews, and was forced to be shut down by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The story has spread across the internet, provoking commentary on websites such as the Washington Post, The Atlantic, and the New York Times.

Hit the jump for the videos and a short description of the message that is being sent:

Ad 1 – After a quick shot of downtown NYC, and then to an American who misunderstands his significant other’s motive behind avoiding a party. He thinks she wants to stay for a romantic evening together. However, it is clear she is solemnly observing Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Rememberance Day. The ad ends with a hebrew-speaking voice-over stating that “they will always remain Israelis. Their partners won’t always understand what this means”, before stating finishing with “help them return to Israel”.

Ad 2 –  The video tries to act subtle by first showing what looks like an American neighbourhood in the fall, and then a napping father with a copy of The Economist. A child attempts to awaken him by repeatedly calling out “daddy”, to no avail. Finally, the child tries “Abba”, the Hebrew equivalent, and his father suddenly perks up, looking proud in his son’s choice of words.

This ad once again ends with a hebrew-speaking voice-over, maintaing the “they will always remain Israelis” motto, but adding that “the children won’t”, and ending once again with “help them return to Israel”. The video is also given the hebrew translation of the title: “Before ‘Abba’ is changed into ‘Daddy,’ the time has come to return to Israel.”

Ad 3 – After a quick shot of a wintry suburb, the ad shows a young girl, seated with her parents while video-chatting with her grandparents. The grandparents ask the little girl how she’s doing, and she replies that everything is okay. Simple exchange of pleasantries. The camera shifts back to the grandparents, (who can be seen in front of a lit Menorah), who ask her if she knows what holiday it is. She answers “it’s Christmas!” and then the camera shifts back to the grandparents now dejected looks.

The ad ends with an identical voice-over to the second, saying that while “they will always remain Israelis”, the “the children won’t”, and the viewer should “help them return to Israel”. Unfortunately, the official video for this one seems to have disappeared from the internet. The video I’ve posted instead is virtually identical, except with the not entirely accurate english subtitles, and some kid annoyingly yelling “it’s Christmas!” with his face pasted over the little girl’s.

All three ads end by giving the URL for the Hebrew version of the MOIA website, so I decided to check out the English version.

Sure enough, the first thing I saw maintained the same message; “Before ‘Motek’ [Israeli term of endearement] turns into ‘Honey’, it’s time to return to Israel”. They than provided a link for more information on what they call the “Returning Home Project”.

For more info on this whole story, be sure to check out the Washington Post.

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