CNN’s refusal to run two pro-Israel ads has Jewish officials steaming. “It’s outrageous,” said Ken Bandler, a spokesman for the American Jewish Committee, whose 30-second spot, part of a $500,000 advertising campaign, emphasizes Israel’s shared democratic values with the U.S.
“Shame on them,” said Larry Weinberg, executive vice president of israel21c, of the cable news network.
His California-based group’s ad is “educational, not political,” he said.
The two similar but separate ads were turned down by CNN despite appeals to Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Atlanta-based network.
“So much for the notion that Jews control the media,” said Weinberg.
Despite the setback, both ads began airing on CNN and Fox News affiliates in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., this week.
They are being placed in the top 100 markets around the country, but Weinberg said he had sought to buy time directly from CNN to have more control over when his group’s ad would appear and to be sure that it would air on every CNN station.
CNN originally said it was turning down the ads because they might endanger their correspondents around the world. It later issued a statement saying the network “is not airing advocacy advertising regarding international issues from regions in conflict.”
“Our ad says nothing about conflict,” said Weinberg, “it’s pure and simple education, telling people that Israel is a democracy. It’s CNN that is being political. Are they the media or are they politics?”
Bandler said the AJCommittee ad, which begins with the statement “Israel is America’s real ally in the Middle East,” is airing on Time Warner in Manhattan and Cablevision in Westchester, as well as in the Washington area.
“We plan to roll it out nationally over the next several weeks and assess its effectiveness,” he said.
The ad campaigns are the result of studies, commissioned by the new, Washington-based Israel PR Project, on American attitudes toward Israel.
The studies, first reported in The Jewish Week last month, found that many Americans are unaware of the strong parallels between American and Israeli forms of government and Israel’s long quest for peace with its Arab neighbors.
According to the reports, the more Americans are made aware of Israel as a democracy with freedom of religion and voting rights for all citizens, the more sympathetic they were to Israel’s cause.