Wow this is great reporting at the Jewish Channel. They focus on the ad campaign sponsored by the Israeli gov’t (which we mentioned last week) which is aimed at getting back all the Israelis who have moved to the United States–as many as 2 million!
Watch the ads from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, between :25 and 2:40 — they’re cute, mostly, and in Hebrew, so I’m counting on the Jewish Channel’s translation. In one a dad doesn’t wake up when is son says Daddy over and over again, then he does wake up when the kid says “Abba.” The Israeli gov’t’s message: “They will always remain Israelis. Their children will not. Help them to return to Israel.”
Then there’s another one in which Israeli grandparents’ faces fall when their grandchild says on Skype that she’s celebrating Christmas.
The third ad is the craziest/most interesting. It suggests, says the Jewish Channel’s anchor, that “marrying American Jews could make Israelis lose their sense of identity.” [Update: Commenters have explained that the Jewish Channel’s translation is faulty, see Krauss and Shmuel translations below] In the ad, a couple comes home to an apartment and the girlfriend stares with grief at a computer screen, realizing it’s Israel’s annual day of remembrance for fallen soldiers. The boyfriend seems to be remonstrating with her. He doesn’t get it. The message, translates the anchor: “They will always remains Israelis, their partners won’t always understand what this means. Help them return to Israel.”
These are the same fears of assimilation that bedevilled the Jewish community inside America for decades. Some day I have to tell you the joke whose punchline is, As soon as I’m hanging up the phone I’m putting my head in the oven. (Mom to son who has announced he’s marrying non-Jew)
This issue is huge. John Mearsheimer first told me about it two years ago. Reverse aliyah, the marrow being sucked out of the Israeli miracle, by Israelis. No wonder the billboard version of these ads are in Palo Alto, Boston, L.A., New York. That’s where the software engineers and professors are. This brain drain is also cited fearfully by Bernard Avishai in his Harper’s piece– saying that only peace will bring the Israelis home.