During the celebrations for Israel’s 50th anniversary in 1998, Israel’s senior publicists were polled to name the most effective public relations campaign in Israel’s history. The winner? A 1965 campaign to publicize the new law prohibiting picking wildflowers.
Until the law was passed, families and groups of schoolchildren, along with their teachers, picked flowers as a pastime. Entrepreneurs sold bouquets in cities and along the side of the road.
Uzi Paz described the campaign in his recent book, Le-Ovdah U-le-Shamrah: Shmurat Teva be-Yisrael. To Work It and to Preserve It: Wildlife Preservation in Israel. An excerpt appeared in the February-March 2010 issue of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel’s magazine, Bishvil Hateva. As the acting director of nature preservation department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Paz got the idea when the law to protect national parks and nature reserves was being developed. Paz knew the importance of preserving wildflowers no matter where they grew.
Once the law passed, the public needed to develop awareness. How would people know which flowers were included in the ban? Bracha Levi Avigad designed this poster with illustrations of the protected flowers and a warning: “It’s forbidden to pick them!” The poster was sent to government offices, banks, and medical clinics and most important, every school and kindergarten in the country. Children began to educate their parents about which flowers not to pick. On Fridays, newspapers published pictures of seasonal flowers, and radio hosts discussed the flowers on the air. Reporters flooded the agricultural ministry with requests for more information.
The children of the ‘60s internalized the message of protecting nature and became the true guardians of Israel’s wildflowers.