Op-Ed: Don't Put Your Head in the Sand
Go´el JasperGlenn Jasper, a 2004 Oleh from Baltimore, Md. is Managing Director of FinnPartners Israel, a leading full-service strategic marketing consultancy and public relations agency, part of the Ruder Finn group. He blogs at http://www.ruderfinn.co.il/. lives with his wife and eight children in Beit Shemesh.
Leave it to the American Jewish leaders to force their followers to continue to bury their collective head in the sand.
Many of us here in Israel applauded when the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption made the gutsy move of buying billboard space and television ad spots in key U.S. cities where Israel "yordim" (expats) live. The ads, which had hard-hitting messages about the danger of assimilation in America, were attempting to illustrate to Israelis who have left Israel that they should be concerned about their children's cultural future, so to speak, by keeping
them out of the Jewish homeland.
About six months after we made Aliyah, an article about my family had appeared in The Baltimore Sun, and a reader had followed it with a letter to the editor decrying the decision my wife and I made to move our children to a particular area of Israel. Here is an excerpt:
"While the politics of their choice are open to discussion, one reality is not: The Jaspers have deliberately moved their five young children into harm's way. Certainly, as adults, they have the right to make that move themselves, but I think taking their children is unconscionable."
You see, at the time, it was considered dangerous to live in Yehuda and Shomron, even though more people were being killed by terror attacks inside the "green line" than outside of it.
Well, I responded by writing that this woman was putting her descendants into harm's way far more than I, given the astronomical intermarriage rate among non-Orthodox Jews in America. In other words, she was killing her family's Jewish future by staying in America.
So this week, when I heard that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bowed to pressure from American Jewish "leaders" to scrap the billboard ads, I was not only disappointed. I was downright concerned.
And I remain so.
Because those billboards may have seemed like they were designed with yordim in mind.
But that's not the case for any Jew who is willing to look at him/herself in the mirror and honestly ask the question of what the future may be for his/her descendants if they remain in America.
The truth is that those billboards are for all Jews. If you remain in America, the odds are that your grandchildren will celebrate Christmas and not Chanuka. If you remain in America, the odds are that your children will marry non-Jews and end the Jewish line for your family.
It's so backward. When it comes to buying shares in a company, or buying a home, or even selecting a car for one's family, Jews in America do a tremendous amount of research. What existing problems does it have? Does it suit my needs? And, of course, will I receive a return on my investment long-term?
But when it comes to where Jews in America live, and what kind of future it will mean for their children and grandchildren, they don't ask those questions.
Put more simply, if I told you that I had one stock guaranteed to go up long-term and another guaranteed to absolutely tank long-term, which would you buy?
Well, Jews in America continue to ignore the rising stock of Israel and continue to purchase more and more shares of the plummeting (as high as a 75-80% intermarriage rate among non-Orthodox American Jews) U.S. Jewry "fund."
When leaders like Abraham Foxman of the ADL and the Jewish Federations of North America leadership respond in panic, as they did to this campaign, it is clear to me that they heard the message of the campaign loud and clear – and they need that message to go away as
soon as possible.
So here's the bottom line – just because it was done in a heavy-handed manner that some might find insulting does not mean it was incorrect. And it seems as though Foxman and those who joined his request are hoping the whole issue will go away if they focus on the method of message
delivery, when the message itself was absolutely correct.
And that is a great disservice that they are providing to all these millions of American Jews.
But more than that, it's a great disservice to those American Jews' descendants.