WASHINGTON - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the Absorption Ministry on Friday to abort a new campaign that urges Israelis who live abroad to return to the Jewish state. Netanyahu's move is an attempt at damage control, as the campaign drew sharp criticism from US Jews.
Three videos produced by the Ministry depict "normal" scenarios from the daily lives of Israelis abroad, and urge them to "return home" before becoming "fully assimilated."
“The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s campaign clearly did not take into account American Jewish sensibilities, and we regret any offense it caused,” Oren 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 diplomat stressed that Netanyahu instructed the ministry to remove the YouTube videos and billboards the moment he was made aware of the campaign.
"The prime minister deeply values the American Jewish community and is committed to deepening ties between it and the State of Israel,” he said.
One of the videos shows grandparents in Israel with a Hanukkah menorah behind them, talking with their granddaughter on Skype. They ask her "what holiday is it today?" to which she cheerfully answers "Christmas."
At the end of the video, a message appearing on the screen reads: "They will always be Israeli. Their children will not. Help them come home."
Another video that angered American Jews, suggests that Israelis should not marry non-Israeli partners, because they will never understand Israeli holidays such as the Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day.
In a third ad, a child is shown trying to wake up his napping father by repeatedly calling out "daddy." However, the father only responds when the child finally calls him "aba" (Hebrew for father).
American media outlets slammed the ads, directing their anger at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Business Insider magazine compared Netanyahu to the Grinch, a fictional character created by Dr. Seuss, which is used to describe a person opposed to Christmas time celebrations, while The Miami Herald published an article titled "Benjamin Netanyahu's war on Christmas?"
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