Mazel Tov, Mr. Goldberg

The genesis of this post was a ‘BREAKING NEWS’ email that hit my inbox fresh off the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) Newsdesk: Netanyahu pulls ad campaign for Israeli expats in US.

To give you an idea of where this ranks on the JTA Scale of Concern, the last BREAKING NEWS emails I could find in my archive were about the Gabrielle Giffords assassination attempt and the passing of Debbie Friedman (though I acknowledge more may have been routed to spam or the trash). So this must be a Big Fucking Deal. Let’s take a look.

The article begins as follows:

NEW YORK (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is canceling an ad campaign aimed at luring Israeli expatriates home that some American Jews have found offensive.

The ads, produced by Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, attempt to convey the message that the children and families of Israeli expats will not have Israeli identities if they stay in the Diaspora. This week, the Jewish Federations of North America called the ads “insulting,” and the head of the Anti-Defamation League said they were “demeaning.”

Jeffrey Goldberg is, of course, proud of himself. On the bottom of his original post, he made a point to append:

UPDATE: The Jewish Federations of North America apparently agree with my analysis.

And he wasted no time in putting up another blog post, Netanyahu Cancels Anti-Diaspora Ad Campaign, in which he trumpets:

So there you have it: Another Diaspora-Israel crisis averted. The prime minister has acted swiftly and correctly. Goldblog’s work here is done. Shabbat Shalom.

I agree with Goldberg on a number of his points: The campaign was a poor idea, it was right for the Israeli government to end it, and you should have a Shabbat Shalom. I also agree that Goldberg is in large part responsible for the campaign’s demise, and he has every right to take credit.

But his claim that the JFNA agrees with his analysis might be a step too far. Let’s take a look at what they actually said:

While we recognize the motivations behind the ad campaign, we are strongly opposed to the messaging that American Jews do not understand Israel. We share the concerns many of you have expressed that this outrageous and insulting message could harm the Israel-Diaspora relationship.

And since the JTA quoted him too, let’s see what another for-better-or-worse Jewish institution has to add:

The Anti-Defamation League’s national director, Abraham Foxman, told Haaretz the ads were “heavy-handed, and even demeaning.”

And now let’s note what they didn’t say:

Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews

There are certainly legitimate reasons for opposing this ad campaign and applauding its termination. Agreeing with Jeffrey Goldberg doesn’t have to be one of them.


UPDATE, as of 12/4/11:

I think it’s telling that following the Israeli government’s apology for the campaign, MOIA pulled the Christmas ad from youtube – but not the Boyfriend ad that so offended Goldberg:

The link was originally posted here, but because it was canceled is no longer embeddable:

And here’s the still-working (as of this writing) video:


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