Buy Israel Week, an effort to spur consumers to purchase products made in Israel, is the brainchild of Frances Zelazny, a marketer by trade who, dismayed at the growing strength of the boycott and divestment movement, decided to fight fire with fire.
Anyone can buy an Israeli product, even though not everyone can support Israel politically, by shaping decisions made at the United Nations or on Capitol Hill, she said. Israel’s advocates should start thinking of shopping as a way to support the state.
“This is a way to do something, other than by clicking ‘like’ on Facebook,” Zelazny said.
Zelazny has used her professional skills to make doing that something particularly easy, and appealing, during Buy Israel Week. 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 this and other Jewish newspapers, the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce and the Israel Manufacturers Association will all spread the word about the deals, the products and the value to Israel of the average shopper’s support.
Consumers need make no sacrifices in terms of quality in order to support Israel with their wallet, Zelazny said. The country is home to several world-leading brands, such as Ahava cosmetics, that enjoy the same level of name recognition as their European or American competitors. Ahava is a Buy Israel Week participating merchant, as is Artistic Tile, El Al Israel Airlines, Tnuva dairy products and Rosebud, the Manhattan boutique featuring exclusively Israeli designers and artisans. (Jewish organizations like Israel Bonds, American Friends of Magen David Adom, Nefesh B Nefesh, Meir Panim and others are also participating in Buy Israel Week.)
“We are promoting these products on their merits,” Zelazny said. “People will want to buy them.”
Nor does Zelazny intend to wind down her efforts when this first Buy Israel Week ends. She plans to turn the initiative into a nonprofit organization with 501c3 status 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.”