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Mindy Meyer, a nice Jewish girl, is running for New York State Senate. Upon seeing her picture, I joked that she reminded me of “Legally Blonde“, but it turns out she actually was inspired by that story. Meyer is 22-years-old and has been interested in politics since she was eleven and a half. Her hot-pink website blares LMFAO “Sexy and I know it”, and says in leopard-print letters “Diva of the District”. Her sparkling slogan is “I’m senator and I know it”. Everything about her screams “I’m young and inexperienced!” Meyer wears her inexperience as a badge of pride. “I can tell you one thing,” she said. “I have no experience in corruption.” (I’m not sure if she is trying to imply that experienced senators are all corrupt, or just innocently stating that she is not.) She knows her audience is the youth vote, which is why she doesn’t mind having a website that looks juvenile and unprofessional. Mindy Meyer seems to have clear goals, and a desire to get things done. She wants to “crack down on crime”, specifically domestic violence, create youth employment programs, and ensure the right to choose where to send one’s children to school, but prevent women’s right to choose to birth an unwanted child. (It’s possible that I do not share her views on this last issue, but I’m trying to keep politics out of this…)

While I applaud Meyer’s initiative, creativity, and activism, I do not quite understand why she is running for senate at such a young age. Why does she not finish her law degree first? Why not get some experience in politics before going ahead and running for office? In the several interviews that I watched her give, she was able to clearly express her points, but was not as well spoken as she could be with a bit of experience under her belt. Perhaps running now is a way to get some publicity as well as experience, even in the event of a loss. Once she has more years behind her and has worked towards accomplishing some of her goals outside of the Senate, people will remember her as the spunky kid who tried to run for State Senate and, inspired by her passion to improve her district, will happily vote for her.

What do you think?

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In case you are not familiar with these advertisements that were aired in certain American communities by Israel’s Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, I suggest you take a look.

These clips are fairly harsh, a bit exaggerated and certainly leave one thinking.
Of course any country with so many citizens abroad would want to campaign to bring their citizens home. I think the idea of advertising to Israelis in North America to return home is a good one. It shows that the government cares and wants them home. Israel wants back it’s inventors, industrialists and citizens in general. It makes sense to me, although I do not completely agree with the sentiments of the ads.

Having been fortunate enough to grow up in a terrorism-free environment, I am grateful that I do not fully relate to what Israelis go through every year on Yom HaZikaron (Israeli Remembrance Day). There are cultural differences between Americans and Israelis, so yes, there will be a barrier to overcome between an Israeli and American in a relationship- be it in Israel or anywhere else in the world.

As an American with a very strong Jewish identity, I find it problematic to blame America instead of the parents for a child not knowing it’s Chanukah. While assimilation is an issue not to be overlooked, that little girl’s parents could have easily taught her about Jewish culture and holidays. The American culture cannot be blamed for that- that girl wouldn’t have known about Chanukah (aside from sufganiyot and dreidles) even had her parents raised her in Israel.

What interested me about these short clips were the discussions they inspired. They really got a dialogue going, although probably not the one the Israeli government was hoping for. The Jewish Federations of North America were insulted by the ads, and the Anti-Defamation League found them to be demeaning. PM Netanyahu, who apparently had nothing to do with this, had the ads pulled following such negative responses. I’m curious what you all think about the campaign and the various reactions to it.

If you just watch the videos and don’t really think about their implications too much (as we are meant to do with television advertisements) I’m not sure they are really as terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad as Jeffrey Goldberg made them out to be in this piece, published in The Atlantic on November 30. Makom published an interesting analysis last week on the ads and Mr. Goldberg’s take on them, which I enjoyed and recommend.

According to my understanding, the adverts are meant to resonate with Israelis, showing extreme and exaggerated portrayals of what might happen if they do not return to their homeland. I understand that assimilation is a sensitive topic, which is why it may have struck a nerve and insulted or offended Americans, but that is just another one of the many cultural difference that separates Americans and Israelis.

“The Ministry of Immigrant Absorption’s campaign clearly did not take into account American Jewish sensibilities, and we regret any offense it caused,” Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, 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…”

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