While not everyone can influence government decisions on Israel, anyone can buy an Israeli product, says Frances Zelazny, the force behind Buy Israel Week.
A marketer by trade – and dismayed at the growing strength of the boycott and divestment movement – Zelazny said she decided to fight fire with fire by launching an effort geared to consumers.
Israel’s advocates should start thinking of shopping as a way to support the state, she said, adding, “This is a way to do something, other than just clicking ‘like’ on Facebook.”
From Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, merchants across the country will offer deals on Israeli products to buyers who download coupons from the Buy Israel Week website, www.buyisraelweek.com.
Co-sponsors such as The Jewish Standard and other Jewish newspapers in New York, Chicago, Florida, Washington, California, Texas, and Arizona; the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce; and the Israel Manufacturers Association are helping to raise awareness of the initiative.
A Buy Israel supplement will be included in the Nov. 18 issue of this newspaper.
“We are thrilled to be part of this effort,” said Jewish Standard publisher James Janoff. “Our market is filled with retailers and consumers who value the importance of products from Israel.”
Said Zelazny, “Consumers need make no sacrifices in terms of quality in order to support Israel with their wallet.”
She noted that Israel offers well-known brands, vendors, and services such as Ahava cosmetics, El Al Israel Airlines, and Tnuva dairy products. Artistic Tile and Rosebud are some of the merchants selling Israeli products.
These companies – together with organizations such as Israel Bonds, American Friends of Magen David Adom, American Friends of Ben Gurion University, Nefesh B’Nefesh, and Meir Panim – are among those participating in the campaign.
As Buy Israel Week sponsors, these groups are benefiting from a marketing package that includes exposure to up to 1 million people in targeted markets across the country, as well as comprehensive social media outreach through Facebook and Twitter, blog features, YouTube videos, and “Seriously Surprising Israel Deals” featuring Israeli products and giveaways.
“We are promoting these products on their merits,” Zelazny said. “People will want to buy them.”
While Buy Israel Week will feature products from a cross-section of Israeli manufacturers in a variety of industries, it is expected that more than 100 local merchants across the country will offer special deals on “Made in Israel” goods in their stores.
Buy Israel Week has been organized by jdeal.com, a comprehensive daily deal site targeting the Jewish market, nine media organizations, the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce, Manufacturers’ Association of Israel, Israel Export and Cooperation Institute, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Stand With Us.
Zelazny said she plans to turn the initiative into a nonprofit organization to more systematically disseminate the message that Israel needs its backers’ purchasing power in addition to their political power.
“We’ll promote Israeli products,” she said. “This is a direct counter to the boycotts.”