- By David KennerDavid Kenner is the Middle East editor at Foreign Policy. He is based in Beirut, Lebanon, and has been with FP since 2009 (a long time, he knows). He worked for FP previously in Cairo, where he covered the early days of the Arab Spring, and before that in Washington. He has attended Georgetown University and the American University of Beirut and has reported from Libya, Egypt, Gaza, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.
If you watched the midterm election results come in — and if you’re reading Passport, there’s a good chance you did — you likely saw this commercial from The Israel Project. And according to the organization’s president, you’re going to keep seeing the ad for some time.
The commercial, which was arguably the most prominent instance of a foreign policy issue rearing its head on election night, features remarks from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair interspersed with pictures of smiling children. Both Blair and Netanyahu are quoted lauding the Israel’s democracy and affirming its desire to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Another ad urged Israel and the United States to work together on developing alternative energy sources, "so that some day, every neighborhood will be free from our dependence on Middle East oil."
Jennifer Mizrahi, the Israel Project’s president, said that the ads started airing during the night fo the midterm elections, and will continue to appear for sometime. The organization bought air time on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and Comedy Central, among other networks.
"We bought a lot of ads," said Mizrahi. "I don’t know, but I think we were on every break. And we should still be on — it’s a very heavy rotation."
Mizrahi estimated the cost of producing the ads at $50,000. She said that her organization had spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" on ad time over the past year.
Mizrahi said that the Israel Project decided to buy ads at this time because they knew that they would reach a demographic concerned about national security issues. And she wanted to ensure that, though the election may have hinged on domestic economic issues, the next session of Congress doesn’t neglect the U.S. alliance with Israel.
"[W]e want people in Washington to understand that the holding of the peace process is very important to Israel and to people who care about Israel — that we want these peace talks to move forward," said Mizrahi. "That was the first thing: to show the Israeli prime minister’s commitment to a peace process and a two state solution, and a better future for all."