Ad campaign to bring Israelis back is right on-target

The current buzz is all about that article by Jeffrey Goldberg called “Netanyahu Government Suggests Israelis Avoid Marrying American Jews” in The Atlantic.  In it, Goldberg writes about the current ad campaign being run by Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, targeting expatriate Israelis in the States to come back to Israel. Goldberg reports that, ‘The Jewish Channel, which broke the story of what it calls a “semi-covert national campaign,” suggests that the Ministry [of Immigrant Absorption] does not differentiate between the “dangers” of marrying American Jews, and American non-Jews, and I have to agree.’ Well I have to disagree. In fact, Jeffrey Goldberg is wrong.

Israel is not, as Goldberg suggests, showing contempt for American Jews. Nor for America or any Americans. The Ministry is simply telling it like it is – take it as you wish. If you’re a Jewish Israeli and you leave Israel, something WILL get lost. Maybe now, maybe next generation, but it will happen. How many of us Americans originate from countries outside of the US? What’s left of THAT culture in our lives? Maybe it wasn’t important to us Jews. But being Jewish is. And being Jewish in Israel is unlike being Jewish in any other country in the world. Yes, including America. So yes, if you are Jewish and you live in Israel you WILL have the ultimate Jewish experience. And if you LEAVE Israel, you WILL lose something. These commercials are putting it out there.

If an Israeli goes to the United States and gets married there, whether he marries a Jew or a non-Jew, the chances of him returning to Israel drops that much further. He becomes that much more anchored to America. That is simply a fact.

Can a Jew celebrate Chanukah in America? Absolutely. But can you prevent your holiday from being overshadowed by the thoroughly national celebration of Christmas? Maybe if you live in a hole.

Goldberg finds it ridiculous that ‘Dafna,’ the girl mourning Israel’s war and terror losses on Israel’s Memorial Day, cannot adequately explain this to her American boyfriend. Come on: Memorial Day in America is about barbecues and shopping. In Israel there is hardly a person here who has not been touched by the losses commemorated on that day. Believe me, ‘the Josh-character’ can NOT relate.

Goldberg indignantly claims one who says ‘a Jew who is concerned about the Jewish future should live in Israel,’ is ‘archaic, and also chutzpadik.’  Archaic? Chutzpadik? I’m sorry, Mr. Goldberg, for being an archaic, chutzpadik Jew. Personally, I believe our chutzpah has served us well over the years. But really, do I have to explain that one? Jewish future in a  Jewish homeland vs. Jewish future in a vastly overwhelmingly non-Jewish country… Tough one.

This is contempt for America? No, it is reality. We love America. Yes, I left, but I love and appreciate everything America stands for and what it has given to several generations of my family. It was my home. But it is not our Home. There is no place in the world that can replace Israel in the heart of the Jewish nation. But if one stays long enough it can replace Israel in one’s soul. Isn’t that worth placing a few ads and commercials?

About the Author

Laura Ben-David is the author of numerous articles and the book, MOVING UP: An Aliyah Journal, a memoir of her move to Israel. She has done public speaking about Israel and Aliyah all over the United States and Israel. Contact her at laura@aliyahbook.com or follow her tweets at http://www.twitter.com/laurabendavd