A Tourism Ministry public relations gimmick to bring Hollywood stars to Israel has bombed, with not a single one of the 26 Oscar nominees awarded free trips to Israel last year actually making the trip. Now, the BDS movement is taking credit for the failure.Let's think about this for a second. If you won a free trip worth over $50,000 to, say, Japan, you would probably either take time off of work to go there or maybe give the gift to someone else.
The tour packages, worth tens of thousands of dollars apiece, were given to 26 nominees in the highest-profile Oscar categories, including actors Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Sylvester Stallone and Kate Winslet.
Last February, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement put out an official statement urging recipients not to use the tour packages, charging that by coming to Israel, they would be helping the Israeli government whitewash what BDS terms the crimes of the occupation.
On Wednesday, Yousef Munayyer, an activist with the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights who promotes the cultural boycott of Israel, said his movement’s efforts had proved effective.
“This is a success,” Munayyer told AFP. “I am very glad there’s no evidence that people went. I think it is clear the objective of using the actors to whitewash Israel has failed.”
If you were super-rich, however, such a gift would mean nothing. You wouldn't rearrange your schedule to go to Japan unless perhaps you were planning to do it anyway. The hassle of taking advantage of the gift is almost more than telling your people where you want to go on vacation. The gift would go unused, and the advertisers who offered the gift would reap the free publicity from all the news stories about extravagant swag bags without having to pay a dime.
Last year's bag included personalized M&Ms, a breast lift procedure, skincare products made from tea that are supposedly worth $31,000, the trip to Israel - and a walking tour trip to Japan worth worth over $50,000.
Did any Hollywood star who received the bag take advantage of the Japan trip? Did any of them use the "vampire breast lift"? I bet none of them did.
And I bet none of them took advantage of the:
3-day stay at the Golden Door Resort & Spa in San Marcos, CA ($4,800)
3-night stay at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, Italy ($5,000)
3-night stay at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy ($5,000)
Does this mean that those gifts were a bust? Certainly not for the breast lift people, and not for the Japanese either or the hotels. It was free publicity.
And so was the trip to Israel.
Tourism went up over the past year, and it is possible that the many stories about the free Israel trip contributed to the perception of Israel as a wonderful place to travel that is associated with the Oscars. Which is the entire intention!
The BDSers, as usual, as spinning this as a "victory," but if the unused Japan trips aren't causing the Japanese tourism minister to perform harakiri, the unused Israel trips given to mega-rich stars are not shameful for Israel either.