Advert targeting Jews 'marrying out' pulled

By Jessica Elgot, September 10, 2009
Natan Sharansky

Natan Sharansky

A controversial advertising campaign which portrayed young Jews who have married out as “missing persons” has been pulled by the Jewish Agency.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky pulled the television and newspaper adverts after a storm of criticism from bloggers, journalists and religious leaders.

The campaign, organised by MASA – a partnership between the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government — was intended to get Israeli citizens to encourage young diaspora Jews to come to Israel if they believed they were at risk of marrying a non-Jew.

The clip features missing person posters in streets and stations in Europe and the US in English, French and Russian. The pictures show young people with Jewish names written beneath the pictures and one wears an "I love Israel” T-Shirt.

The advert, voiced by Channel 1 reporter Ayala Hasson, says in Hebrew: "More than 50 per cent of young Jews assimilate. We are losing them."

It depicts life in the diaspora as illegitimate and as leading Jews to lose their identities.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv

She asks if viewers "know a young Jew living abroad" and that they should get them to call. She says: "Together, we will strengthen his or her bond to Israel, so that we don't lose them"

Rabbi Gilad Kariv, chairman of the Movement for Progressive Judaism, said: "It uses harsh visual means that provoke some very bad associations. It depicts life in the diaspora as illegitimate and as leading Jews to lose their identities."

One blogger wrote in response to the clip: “Could you imagine the outcome if the advert was about saving European (white) people around the world from ‘getting lost’? The outcries of racism would be heard around the globe.”

Last updated: 4:13pm, September 10 2009