As many regular readers of this blog will no doubt remember, the "staff" of the Galilee Institute (http://www.gogalil.com) spearheaded an effort earlier this year to get Jerusalem, Israel, included on the board of the new Monopoly - Global Edition. People around the world were invited by the Hasbro Corporation to vote for their favorite cities, with the cities getting the highest vote totals to be included on the new global game board. Many cities such as Montreal, Canada; Istanbul, Turkey; Paris, France; and Riga, Latvia; spent millions in advertising, as they recognized the importance to tourism and commerce of being the new global "Park Place."
As more bloggers and Facebook friends started to get involved, along with David Saranga of the Israeli Consulate in New York and Yair Spitz on Facebook - Jerusalem, Israel started rising in the rankings - and rising fast! Starting as low as 50th with 0.1% of the vote, at its peak, Jerusalem, Israel, was ranked third with over 3.6% of the total vote tally!
We were gaining important attention and organizations such as One Jerusalem, the OU and Bnei Akiva started working hard for the cause.
Apparently all this brouhaha angered some less friendly individuals with specific political agendas. Suddenly, without fanfare, and only for a day or so, Jerusalem became the only city in the world to appear stateless, apparently without a country (see: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1203518556689&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull).
Later that week, the vote tally disappeared completely from the Hasbro website:
When the cities reappeared, several days later, none of the cities had country indicators attached to them. Hasbro told reporters that "this was the plan all along," something they failed to note at the start.
The biggest surprise for the voting public was yet to come. Towards the end of the contest, as cities were getting closer and closer and Jerusalem was quickly climbing into a "blue square" position, Hasbro, Inc. took down the site completely with a statement that the new board would be announced in August, 2008.
Yet here we are, late August, 2008, and what's fair is fair - the ranks stayed, more or less, exactly as they were the last time we saw them...
Country indicators may have been dropped because of the "controversy" we created with our successful campaign for Jerusalem, and with it the game's linkage of Israel to the Eternal Capital of the Jewish people; but, our joint efforts literally got our historic city "on the board!!"
Jerusalem will be in the yellow section, a few values below some larger cities that spent millions in advertising to encourage their residents to vote (Montreal/Riga/ Paris) but way above international commercial and tourism giants such as New York, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Rome. Note that Beijing and Hong Kong also came in after our great city!
To all who participated - David, Yair, Yechiel and the thousands of voters who logged in religiously every day for weeks to log their votes - Job well done!! We were not to be ignored!!
To paraphrase what the great Tal Brody who is celebrating his 65th birthday this week, said after winning Israel's first-ever European Basketball Championship (1977-78): "We are on the map and we are on the map to stay in basketball and every other way!!"
Happy Birthday Tal and Mazal Tov Yerushalayim!!
Founder & Senior Analyst
The Galilee Institute