Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

New campaign targets Jews ‘abducted’ by intermarriage

3 September 2009

By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz

An organization that works to strengthen ties between Israel and Diaspora Jews Wednesday launched a scare-tactic campaign that urges Israelis to combat assimilation in North America by working to prevent the “loss” of their own Jewish acquaintances there.

The 10-day Hebrew-language campaign, to be shown on television and online, was prepared by a leading advertising firm at the behest of MASA, a partnership between the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government that helps finance and market semester- and year-length Israel programs for Diaspora Jews.

“More than 50 percent of young Jews assimilate,” the filmed commercial informs viewers through the voice of Ayala Hasson, a top reporter for Channel 1. “We are losing them,” she adds, as soft, melancholy flute music plays in the background.

The 33-second clip features images of missing-person posters hanging in locales in Europe and North America. The posters, in English, French and Russian, show young people with Jewish-sounding names. One “lost” person can be seen wearing a T-shirt that reads “I love Israel.”

The ad then asks anyone who “knows a young Jew living abroad” to call MASA. “Together, we will strengthen his or her bond to Israel, so that we don’t lose them,” the announcer concludes.

The advertisement is MASA’s first appeal to the Israeli public. “So far, MASA has advertised itself only to prospective candidates [for its programs],” said Ayelet Shiloh-Tamir, MASA’s CEO, at a press conference held at the offices of Scherff Communication, the advertising agency.

But she stressed that her organization sees itself as a part of the effort to further Israel-Diaspora ties. “Recent studies suggest that with a 0.5 percent growth rate and an 80 percent assimilation rate in places like the former Soviet Union, the Jewish people is on the verge of a downward trend,” she said. “Yet this issue has been sidelined in Israel. With this campaign, we sought to reintroduce the topic to the public agenda here as something that is of serious importance for average Israelis.”

MASA says in its six years of existence, it has brought 35,000 Jews to study in Israel, injecting an estimated NIS 1.6 billion into Israel’s economy.

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