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December 22, 2011 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2011-12-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Publisher's Notebook from page 22

While both candidates would rep-
resent the district well, Riley may be
a bit too optimistic that residents in
the newly shaped district can focus on
economic rather than racial issues.
Let's be honest. The 14th
Congressional District was a Detroit
district and overwhelmingly African-
American. Though he is capable,
empathetic, progressive and engaging,
Peters winning the primary will trig-
ger outrage among Detroit politicians
and clergy as a further example of
black voter disenfranchisement. (For
a preview, listen to the current bluster
about the potential appointment of an
outside emergency manager to replace
Detroit's elected officials.) And when
a Peters primary win is analyzed,
observers will find it was propelled by
heavy Jewish political and financial
involvement.
In Peters, Democratic primary
voters will have a white suburbanite
earnestly extending his hand south
of Eight Mile Road to create a bridge
of regional trust, understanding and
opportunity. In Hansen Clarke, these
same voters will have a Detroiter of
color earnestly extending his hand
north of Eight Mile to create a bridge
of regional trust, understanding and
opportunity.
Both candidates, according to
Riley, say they are prepared to handle
the district's diversity. And they are.
We'll know the day after the primary
whether the winner's skin color will
transcend or limit his ability to help
unite the region and keep it moving
forward, rather than backward.

Commentary

Israel Intended No Offense With Ad Campaign

Jerusalem/JTA

T

he State of Israel has always
prided itself on being not
only a home to its native
citizens, but also a haven for Jews
from across the globe. For years, the
Ministry of Immigration
Absorption has success-
fully focused on attract-
ing Jews from around the
world to make aliyah and
reconnect with their home-
land. This past year alone,
more than 19,000 Jewish
people chose to leave their
countries of residence
to start life anew in the
Jewish state.
With so much effort
spent on welcoming Jews from
abroad, the ministry runs the risk
of losing sight of another pressing
concern: the deflating number of our
own citizens.
Despite Israel's ever-growing econ-
omy, some of our citizens choose to
leave Israel in search of a more pros-
perous future. While they more often
than not retain their Israeli identities
by living in areas populated by other
sabras (native-born Israelis), these
mini-Israel communities abroad can
never really live up to the real thing.

Marketing Thrust

In an effort to remind our Israeli
emigrants of the unique qualities
of their home-
land, the Ministry
of Immigrant
Absorption launched
SIMPLE SOLUTIONS
a series of television
@Tie JEWISH
and billboard ads.
AND THE HAVE
STATE OF
KINGDOM OF
Though controver-
ISRAEL
sial in nature, the
ads were meant to
remind Israeli expa-
triates that no mat-
ter where they cur-
COASTER THE
PROBLEMATIC
rently reside, there's
TERRITORY
no place like home.
BETWEEN THEM
Some American
PALESTINIAN
Jews were offend-
EMBASSIES
ed by the ads.
BECOME
@NSH
Admittedly, like any
FINANCIAL
ARAB TOWNS
SETTLEMENTS <3
successful cam-
INVESTMENT AND VILLAGES
THRIVE IN AN
paign, the commer-
OFFICES
PROSPER.
AIR OF PEACE. rq
cials were intended
to get people talk-
ing; however, they
certainly were not
meant to offend.
Israeli and

Dry Bones

O iarro

American Jews have shared an
extremely tight relationship that is
not to be taken for granted. Legions
of Zionist supporters abroad have
ensured Israel's continued survival,
and their tireless support has helped
many an Israeli sleep easier.
Having spent some time
working in the United States
as a shaliach, an emissary,
for the Jewish Agency
in Miami, I have come to
know the unique challenges
facing American Jewry.
Living as an integrated
part of American society
while fighting the effects
of assimilation is arguably
the most difficult task with
which Jewish communities
outside of Israel must cope.
While North American Jews have
grown accustomed to weathering
these challenges and working hard
to maintain their unique identities,
many Israeli emigrants have never
had to cope with these added social
pressures.

No Affront Intended

Though I can readily see why some
Jews living abroad would be uneasy
with advertisements whose subtext
may seem to suggest that it is more
difficult to maintain a Jewish identity
outside of the State of Israel, it is
essential to note that the intention of
this campaign was not to pass judg-
ment on our American brothers and
sisters.
Sensitivities aside, the fact is that
each year thousands of well-trained,
highly skilled Israeli professionals are
leaving the country to find employ-
ment elsewhere. These expatriates
represent an invaluable human
resource for our country, and the
job of the Israeli government is to
do whatever possible to direct them
back to their home.
While the ads caused a huge stir
in Jewish communities, the initia-
tive was far from an unprecedented
approach. Countless nations have cre-
ated government programs aimed at
reversing the effects of brain drain.
Israel will always be a homeland of
the Jewish people. That being said,
not every domestic policy pioneered
by Israel's government is necessarily
aimed at the Jewish diaspora.
With Israeli and Jewish culture
being so closely intertwined, the
truth is that the Israeli national char-

acter, including the Hebrew language,
civic holidays and remembering our
fallen heroes, is by no means exclu-
sive to residents. American Jews and
Jews from all across the diaspora are
always encouraged to embrace Israeli
customs and pass them on to their
children.

Israel's Uniqueness

However, there are certain trappings
of Israeli culture that cannot be emu-
lated in America, such as bustling
streets freezing completely in time
while pedestrians and drivers com-
memorate our war dead, or sufgani-
yot (doughnuts) and latkes lining the
windows of shops rather than ginger-
bread. These are the charms that our
government hopes to portray to woo
our talented expatriates back home.
To ensure that we do not find our-
selves in this situation again, my
committee has recommended to all
the relevant agencies and organiza-
tions that a higher level of coordina-
tion be implemented. This means
that Israeli ministries such as the
Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry
of Absorption, the Ministry of
Information and Diaspora Affairs, and
the Foreign Ministry must coordinate
before setting out on such an ambi-
tious campaign.
We, as Israelis, also must be much
more sensitive to our brethren in the
Jewish communities around the world.
A higher level of consultation with
them probably would have enabled us
to avoid this whole situation.
Admittedly, for all the celebrated
charms of the Israeli character,
subtlety is not among our stron-
gest attributes. This is something I
am confident that American Jewry
can appreciate and recognize the
intention and reasoning behind this
campaign. Israelis are a passionate
and honest people who say what we
feel, and believe in what we say. It is
an aspect of our character that has
allowed us to survive and thrive.
Through mutual respect and
admiration, I am sure that our two
communities will move beyond this
incident and continue to focus on
the important issues that are truly
important to us all. I I

Danny Danon is deputy speaker of the

Knesset and chairman of its Committee

for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora

Affairs. He also is the chairman of World
Likud.

December 22 2011

23

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