The news about North American immigration to Israel
is wonderful, but let's face it, "wonderful" is relative. 3,200 immigrants a year, or even 10,000 a year, is just a tiny drop in the relatively big bucket of American Jews. At the rate of even ten thousand a year, it would take 80 years just to bring back to Israel the same number of Israelis who now live in North America.
The worse news is that young Jewish people are disaffected from Israel. This is shown in two different studies by Frank Lunz
and by Kelman and Cohen
that indicate a systematic drop in support for Israel on the part of younger Jews.
Kelman and Cohen used a conventional survey methodology on a group of non-orthodox Jews from a sample of consumer study group respondents. Perhaps it is not the most representative sample, but probably indicative. Kelman and Cohen's study found that for every survey question, Jews under 40 were less attached to Israel than older age cohorts. Perhaps the most interesting finding in this study is that attachment to Israel is not easily related to left wing or right wing politics, and that the group most extremely alienated from Israel are young right-wing Jews. This makes sense if we consider that liberal politics and Judaism tend to go together. Those who are alienated from the Jewish community will tend to be more like the general population. An unsurprising result was that those who had been to Israel have a much greater attachment to the country. Of course, we don't know if this is a cause or a result. People who don't care about Israel are unlikely to visit here.
Lunz's study was based on his usual focus group methodology, with all its acknowledged drawbacks. But the conclusions are mostly unarguable and predictable. Israel advocacy groups are sending the wrong messages, in the wrong media, and in the wrong way for younger Jews. Younger Jews are turned off by requests for donations, don't care about religion and won't visit a Hillel center, don't go to "Jewish lectures." They want incisive, factual and emotion-laden appeals with few words and lots of pictures. They are interested in peace, and are turned off by chauvinistic messages, messages about security, or messages that single out Muslims. About the Internet, Lunz and associates give contradictory advice.
Web sites are a useful strategy to inform those already interested in a subject, but they will not create awareness among audiences who are not already committed. There is an assertion that a well-crafted Web site will help educate young Jews about issues relevant to their lives. We saw no evidence of this whatsoever. Yes, a good Web site is important for those already searching for answers, but its existence is meaningless for those who simply do not care or do not wish to be bothered Ė- a description of most young Jews today.
But don't give up your Web sites yet, because Lunz also tells us:
Unlike their parents and grandparents, the younger generation uses the Web for their research. Point them in the right direction. If you create advertisements and events that get them interested and thinking, they will want more information from the Internet. In the focus groups we saw no evidence of any desire to track down information about Israel, and most of the current advertising did not prompt them to seek answers to their questions or inspire them to learn more...
If young people get most of their information from the Internet, but Web sites won't change their minds, yet on the other hand, advertisements will, then is it good or bad to advertise on the Internet? Should we be making billboard advertisements with Web site addresses or what?
In this 50 page study, Lunz tells us to be brief and incisive too! Despite its faults, this study is recommended reading for anyone planning an advertising campaign. Pro-Israel organizations like the ADL and Stand With Us will find their own advertisements there, dissected by the study group, and learn valuable lessons. But advertising, after all, is not everything.
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Replies: 1 Comment
Young western-born Jews cannot help but be influenced by the simplistic understanding of the conflict that dominates western opinion -- that a lot of European-born Jews displaced a native population of Arabs. A huge education campaign is badly needed to point out to people that Jews are not alien to the middle east in general or the lands between the Jordan and the Mediterreanian and that the establishment of a Jewish state was as necessary to the Oriental Jews as it was to the Ashkenazim. Then there's the concern about being a victim of a terror attack.
The biggest draw Israel has to offer newcomers from the west, and not sufficiently spoken about, is the world-leading high tech and biomedical sectors.
Lynne T, Tuesday, September 11th
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