Powered by WebAds

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Monopoly's stateless Jerusalem

About a month ago, someone sent me a link to vote for Jerusalem, Israel to become one of the cities that would be part of a new international Monopoly game that is being planned. It was sent to me as something 'light' and I posted it for all of you to go vote. Thereafter, I was inundated with links from other bloggers urging me to go vote for Jerusalem myself and to post a request to vote for Jerusalem on my blog. This morning, the tune changed.

I got an email from Anne at Boker Tov Boulder informing me that Hasbro, which now makes Monopoly (when I was a kid it was Parker Brothers), has removed "Israel" from Jerusalem's name, making it a stateless city. Subsequently, Anne did some checking and reports that
someone at the UK public relations firm responsible for the Hasbro Monopoly promotion may have changed "Jerusalem Israel" to just "Jerusalem" in response to public (read, angry Muslim) reaction to yesterday's BBC story.

This morning I got a mass mailing from someone else urging me to contact Hasbro to complain....

As it happens, I know a little bit about Hasbro, which was founded by the Hassenfeld family from Rhode Island (that's a matter of public record or I would never put their names on this blog). It's now a public company. And Jerusalem - no country - is now in 5th place in the contest. So I have sent the following email to the ad agency that is running the contest.

to: peter@brazenpr.com

Dear Peter,

I am writing to you as someone who has known members of the Hassenfeld family for nearly forty years. J. Hassenfeld was my CIT (counselor in training) in a Jewish, Zionist camp in 1968 and lived across the street from my parents in Massachusetts for many years. His twin sisters were in my camp group that same summer. [In the original email, I named both "J" and his twin sisters. CiJ]

As you can see from the signature line below, I am now an attorney living and practicing law in Jerusalem, Israel. I was astounded to discover this morning that my city - number 5 in the current voting for the World Monopoly game - has been disenfranchised from my country, apparently by your agency.

Section 2 of the (United States') Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 provides as follows:


The Congress makes the following findings:

(1)Each sovereign nation, under international law and custom, may designate its own capital.

(2)Since 1950, the city of Jerusalem has been the capital of the State of Israel.

(3)The city of Jerusalem is the seat of Israel's President, Parliament, and Supreme Court, and the site of numerous government ministries and social and cultural institutions.

(4)The city of Jerusalem is the spiritual center of Judaism, and is also considered a holy city by the members of other religious faiths.

(5)From 1948-1967, Jerusalem was a divided city and Israeli citizens of all faiths as well as Jewish citizens of all states were denied access to holy sites in the area controlled by Jordan.

(6)In 1967, the city of Jerusalem was reunited during the conflict known as the Six Day War.

(7)Since 1967, Jerusalem has been a united city administered by Israel,and persons of all religious faiths have been guaranteed full access to holy sites within the city.

(8)This year marks the 28th consecutive year that Jerusalem has been administered as a unified city in which the rights of all faiths have been respected and protected.

(9)In 1990, the Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that the Congress "strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected".

(10)In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113 of the One Hundred Second Congress to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city.


(13)In March of 1995, 93 members of the United States Senate signed a letter to Secretary of State Warren Christopher encouraging "planning to begin now" for relocation of the United States Embassy to the city of Jerusalem.

(14)In June of 1993, 257 members of the United States House of Representatives signed a letter to the Secretary of State Warren Christopher stating that the relocation of the United States Embassy to Jerusalem "should take place no later than....1999".

Section 3 of the same act provides:


(a)Statement of the Policy of the United States.—

(1)Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected;

(2)Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel;

It is inconceivable to me that a company that was founded by a family like the Hassenfelds, who have been involved in Jewish and Zionist causes for generations, would so blatantly change the rules of the game as to leave Jerusalem without a country, especially when the US Congress has decided otherwise.

If this was something your agency did on its own, I would urge you to reverse it immediately. And if the order came from corporate headquarters, I must express my doubts that Alan Hassenfeld, the President of the company, could have approved it.

I hope to see your response in the voting.

Very Truly Yours,
I can't wait to see if he answers.

I urge you all to write your own personalized letters. This is beyond ridiculous!

Update 5:53 PM

In the comments section, Aussie Dave points to this BBC article:
As of 18 February, "Jerusalem, Israel" was fifth on the leader board, sandwiched between "Riga, Latvia" and "Paris, France".

This is no accident. The campaign group One Jerusalem is determinedly encouraging people to make Jerusalem number one, by the time voting closes at the end of the month.

Yehiel Leiter is the director general of One Jerusalem, a group that, in its mission statement, declares a single objective: "Maintaining a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel."

The Monopoly campaign, says Leiter, "puts Jerusalem on the table. It has people not avoid Jerusalem because it's contested".


A postscript on the fate of "Jerusalem, Israel" and the new edition of Monopoly.

As has been noted before in this diary, the international consensus is that the status of Jerusalem has yet to be decided.

The United Nations partition vote of 1947 held that the city should be a "corpus separatum", under international supervision. That vote has not been superseded in the UN.

When approached, Hasbro, the American manufacturers of Monopoly, promised that they would not second-guess the UN, should Jerusalem be included.

In an email to the BBC, they stated: "Due to space limitations no selected city's board space will have any descriptive text aside from said city's common name."

Yet to be resolved is how much Jerusalem will cost. The Old Kent Road (Mediterranean Avenue) or Mayfair (Boardwalk)?
Some of the comments on al-Beeb's site are quite interesting as well.


At 3:38 PM, Blogger Aussie Dave said...

According to the BBC:

When approached, Hasbro, the American manufacturers of Monopoly, promised that they would not second-guess the UN, should Jerusalem be included.

In an email to the BBC, they stated: "Due to space limitations no selected city's board space will have any descriptive text aside from said city's common name."

Does this mean Hasbro plan on sidestepping this issue by removing the country/state info from all cities on the board?

At 4:20 PM, Blogger lance said...

Thanks for the post.

I emailed the following to Hasbro's Customer Service today:

I have been voting online account almost daily for my favorite cities on your new World Monopoly contest.

I was shocked, dismayed and very disappointed with Hasbro when I saw this morning that the Hasbro website now refers to Jerusalem without a country affiliation, unlike all other cities and unlike the "Jerusalem, Israel" identification that the Hasbro site used until yesterday.

Please restore the country affiliation to Jerusalem, Israel, or remove country affiliations with all other cities.

I would hate to see a boycott of Hasbro products started by the Jewish community. I also think back to Hasbro's Jewish roots and its founders, the Hassenfeld brothers.

Lance A. Kawesch

At 5:21 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

What on earth do politics have to do with a Monopoly board game? Apparently, everything.

You see - the only people in the world NOT allowed to have their own capital are the Jews. And the fawning Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni concur with that sentiment.

In retrospect, one can't blame Hasbro when Israel's own leaders won't stand up for an undivided Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


I'd actually be happier if they leave out all the other countries' names if they are going to leave out Israel. At least it would not be so blatant.


You may want to call the one of the Hassenfelds that you and I know well enough to call.


I cannot believe that the Hassenfeld family is going along with this. I'm more inclined to believe they don't know about the decision to remove "Israel" from the voting.

At 8:59 PM, Blogger UnOrthodox said...

Carl- As of this morning (EST) Hasbro has removed all country names from the listing. Only the cities are listed now.

An understandable even elegant and speedy decision (not usually what you get from big companies).


Post a Comment

<< Home