Digital marketing tool to locate Ukrainian-Jewish olim created a month ago, but not launched

The idea of promoting aliyah digitally is that the assumption is that many Ukrainians who are eligible, are approached by other groups to immigrate to foreign countries such as Germany or Austria.

 UKRAINIAN JEWS fleeing from the Russian invasion wait to receive their entry papers to Israel, at an emergency shelter in Moldova last week (photo credit: YOSSI ZLIGER)
UKRAINIAN JEWS fleeing from the Russian invasion wait to receive their entry papers to Israel, at an emergency shelter in Moldova last week
(photo credit: YOSSI ZLIGER)

A government and Jewish Agency funded company has partnered with an Israeli online technology firm that claims to be able to target people who are eligible to make aliyah - yet even though it has been a month since the government approved the use of such technology and even though it is existing and ready - it hasn’t been launched for what is called by sources in Israel’s national institutions as “merely internal politics.”

CEO of the Ofek Israeli Aliyah Encouragement Company Shimon Cohen has initiated the use of technology in order to “market” aliyah to Israel for Ukrainian Jews or those who are eligible to make aliyah according to Israel’s Law of Return. The technology is similar to those in use by commercial companies: An algorithm will identify Ukrainians who have shown interest in Israel, Judaism or engaged in Jewish life online. When these individuals are a certain length away from a border they will receive a push notification offering them to check their eligibility to make aliyah to Israel. Even before they receive this notification, they will be targeted with promoted content in Ukrainian, with information about aliyah. Once they fill in their initial details they can already start the aliyah process. 

The idea of promoting aliyah digitally is that the assumption is that many Ukrainians who are eligible, are approached by other groups to immigrate to foreign countries such as Germany or Austria. Others may not understand that they are eligible to immigrate to Israel or know how to start the process. 

The Jerusalem Post has learned that the Ministerial Committee for the Negev and the Galil and the Aliyah Cabinet have asked Ofek Israeli to produce a technological marketing solution that should reach the Aliyah beneficiaries located in Ukraine and the surrounding countries on March 16th. Two days later, the marketing solution was finalized and ready to launch. “The company has decided that the Jewish Agency will sign a contract with the supplier and Ofek Israeli will lead the project,” Ofek Israeli responded. The Ofek Israeli company was established by the Jewish Agency and the Ministry for Aliyah and Integration - therefore needs approval from these two organizations for strategic initiatives.

Ofek Israeli responded to The Jerusalem Post and approved that the technological campaign exists: “Indeed, an innovative marketing model was presented to the government for locating those entitled to make aliyah, and we even promised to launch it in a very short time. The initiative was approved by the steering committee of the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and was even approved by our company's board of directors. At this stage, a contracting process is underway with the suppliers. When this phase is over we are ready to launch immediately. This model can indeed affect the number of potential immigrants applying for aliyah from the combat zones.”

 Volunteers at the daycare center in Krakow for Jewish refugees from Ukraine, April 10, 2022.  (credit: JROOTS) Volunteers at the daycare center in Krakow for Jewish refugees from Ukraine, April 10, 2022. (credit: JROOTS)

The Jewish Agency responded that “The project has been brought to us and we support it, but it is currently in an administrative contracting process to determine if this will be a single supplier or a tender. When the procedure is over, as required, we will be able to move forward.”