Three years ago, the Sacramento, California community stopped celebrating “Israel Independence Day”, preferring to call it “Jewish Heritage Day”. This was done because many Jews in the area were apparently uncomfortable attending an event whose title included the word “Israel”. Despite the outpouring of support from the Sacramento CUFI Christian community, these Jews were also made to feel even more uncomfortable by the 50-100 anti-Israel demonstrators that turned out each year to yell at the celebrants from across the street. This ‘rebranding’ of Israel is not confined to Sacramento.
This morning comes news from from Berlin that the Tel Aviv booth at Europe’s largest gay pride event will not only be devoid of the word “Israel”, but also devoid of the Israeli flag and other Israeli symbols. But, before you jump to conclusions, these decisions were not made by the German organizers. They were astonishingly made under directions from the Israel tourism office. A spokesman for Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov commented: “In the past it has been proven that the correct and smart way to ‘export’ Israel, especially these days, is through emphasizing brands it excels in, without using anything that symbolizes the state of Israel. Unfortunately, the Israeli flag or Star of David can cause antagonism among many.” He went on to say that Eilat is now promoted as “The Resort City On the Red Sea”, and Israel is now promoted as “The Holy Land With Jerusalem in its center”.
Supporters of Israel must fight against this virulent form of delegitimization. Misezhnikov should be sacked. The pathetic yielding to anti-Israel sentiment and intimidation must be stopped and proactive measures should be undertaken. For example, in reaction to the events in Sacramento, the nearby community where I reside initiated its own “Israel Independence Week Celebration”–which will have its third large annual celebration in May. What have you done for Israel today?