The young Jews we listened to relate strongly to their identity but not in the same way as their parents and grandparents. For this audience, culture has replaced tradition and spirituality has replaced religion... Older Jews who grew up with the establishment of the state of Israel and the Six Day War witnessed a remarkable record of achievement. The reality of young Jews is informed by Rabin's assassination and the second intifada. The impact of this is immediately evident in their use of the word "they" rather than "us" when they talk about Israel. The Jewish state is tangible and emotional for most Jewish organizations but is an abstraction for many younger Jews...
Younger Jews want to make their own decisions about support for Israel. Although most of our respondents support Israel, they reserve the right to question the Israeli position. They do not respond to advertising they view as expressions of "group think." There are no simple truths for these young Jews. They view themselves as free thinkers, and making their own decisions and choosing their own paths are very important. Ads featuring long lists of Israel's supporters, or black and white analysis of the situation wash over this audience. There is real power in conversation. They value the chance to listen, learn, and speak in a non-judgmental environment. They hunger for more opportunities to think and question.
Young Jews tend to view themselves as Americans first and Jewish second...
Secular Jews choose a non-religious path deliberately... They will reject any message or messenger that comes across as overtly religious. At the same time, it is imperative not to mistake young Jews' rejection of traditional models of Jewish life for a lack of interest in Judaism. They are interested in exploring their Jewish identity, but on their terms.
Young Jews desperately want peace... [P]eace is a high priority, much more so than security. They recoil at images and words of conflict and respond positively to any plea for peace.
Luntz summarizes the take-away lessons for marketing Israel to youth:
Less is more. Make your point quickly or it won't be made at all.
Capture their attention. This audience is inundated by marketing. Competition is intense. Relying on old messages such as "Israel is a good nation" or "all Jews should support Israel" will not be heard or remembered.
Facts are more important than slogans. This audience wants a historical road map that brings them to their own conclusion – not a supposition forced upon them.
Relate both Jewish and Israel messaging to America.
Overtly religious appeals will fail.
Use visuals more than dense copy or worse, donor lists...
Ask for their participation. Give them a chance to do something but don't demand it.
Some of this (e.g. use visuals) is just simple marketing common sense. But other points -- especially "talk peace" and "facts are more important than slogans" -- appear blindingly obvious to my under-30 eyes, and yet seem completely at odds with much of the pro-Israel messaging I see.
That functionalist and all-too-often propagandistic approach is actually part of the problem. We need true education and real ownership by our students of the facts and ideas, not a "line" we peddle to them to pass on to others...
Most Jewish students enter college with a superficial and brittle understanding of Israel and Zionism. This brittleness has negative consequences both left and right. For most, their happy-dappy, hava nagilah, blue-and-white stereotype of Israel is so fragile that it shatters at the first hit from a questioning roommate, let alone a hostile professor. For others, the same fragile construct leads to a smothering "Israel, right or wrong, love it or leave it" approach that stifles dissent and helps perpetuate the popular campus stereotype of Israel advocates and Jews as remarkably close-minded on the complex challenges facing Israel.
These "brittle" students, by the way, are usually the Israel "experts" on campus. An overwhelming majority of Jewish students enter college without even that superficial support of Israel, with their feelings for Israel first diluted by the ambivalent and distant approach of their parents to Zionism, then beaten down by media reports about Israeli "oppression."...
By having a broad, deep, intense identification with Israel, students can learn how to be "pro-Israel" without agreeing with every Israeli move, just as we are U.S. patriots without approving every mistake or misstep. By having a rich, balanced understanding of the relationship between Israel and the Jewish people, we can disprove the ever-more-popular slur that Zionism is colonialism and assert our rights as an "indigenous people," people with a 4000-year-old link to a land that is consecrated by our history, by our theology, and by our identity. By studying Israel in context and with balance, our students will emerge with a robust Jewish and Zionist identity, one that can tolerate dissent and ambiguities, one that can sustain assault and doubt, one that can be dynamic and open rather than static and defensive.