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Netanyahu cancels controversial ad campaign

December 2, 2011

I commented earlier on Jeffrey Goldberg’s reports on a controversial Israeli ad campaign that insulted American Jews.  Goldberg commented: 

I don’t think I have ever seen a demonstration of Israeli contempt for American Jews as obvious as these ads.

In response, one Israeli minister flew off the handle:

Israeli Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver is furious. How can anyone not like the campaign aimed at bringing back emigrant Israelis? How can anyone not understand its true motivation and meaning?  Yes, she heard that there’s a growing amount of criticism directed at this campaign….  Landver later calls the criticism … “out of touch”, and “tzimmes”, and talks about a “journalist with zero understanding”. As I’ve said, she is angry. Every journalist, she tells me, “needs to have some intelligence”.

But more sober minds prevailed, and no less than Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has ordered a back-down:

"The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s campaign clearly did not take into account American Jewish sensibilities, and we regret any offense it caused," Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, said in a statement. "The campaign, which aimed to encourage Israelis living abroad to return home, was a laudable one, and it was not meant to cause insult. The campaign was conducted without the knowledge or approval of the Prime Minister’s Office or of the Israeli Embassy in Washington. Prime Minister Netanyahu, once made aware of the campaign, ordered the videos immediately removed from YouTube, and he ordered that the billboards be removed as well. The prime minister deeply values the American Jewish community and is committed to deepening ties between it and the State of Israel."

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