Israel’s disputes with its neighbors have a long history — but there’s also a less tangible, but no less important front line: the media. Public opinion in the United States is an important area of concern for Israel, especially considering Israel has not always been great with its own public relations. Fortunately, there are a number of American-based groups that help make the case for Israel, and one of the best is The Israel Project (TIP). For that reason we are recognizing Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the founder and president of The Israel Project, for her exceptional efforts on behalf of the Jewish state. Rather than running campaigns that might play to Jewish audiences but not necessarily to mainstream America, Mizrahi’s group uses sophisticated research and creative, educational marketing to get the message across. We spoke with Mizrahi about current politics, TIP and her own Jewish journey.
Because nine Turks died in the flotilla incident this past weekend, Israel has to deal with the major problem of relations with Turkey. In the future we cannot let a small group of extremists hijack a peace process or interrupt planned meetings between the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel. On the press coverage, I am thrilled that CNN and MSNBC are using the footage of what really happened. The key is to get out the facts and footage.
Obama Optics and Openness
The “charm offensive” of this White House is really unusual. I have never seen any group courted with such intensity as Jews today. On one hand, it is more about optics than policy changes —there are still important gaps in policy — but optics and civility and openness are very important. I think it says a lot about this White House that they would do a second meeting with 15 rabbis even though the first meeting started with one rabbi saying there was an “e-mail that was circulating with the tag line, ‘There is something wrong with a man more concerned with a Jew building an apartment in East Jerusalem than a Muslim building a nuclear weapon in Tehran.’” I have had several very open meetings with key staff at the White House. On the issue of the Palestinian culture of hate —which I feel is a major obstacle to peace — they are now listening and making positive steps. They also clearly care about stopping the threat of Iran.
The Israel Project’s Mission
The Israel Project works to strengthen Israel’s image — and educate reporters about Israel’s enemies — in order to help protect Israel, reduce anti-Semitism caused by negative images of Israel in the media and to increase pride in Israel. We are on the front lines of the media war to protect Israel and our global Jewish family.
The media in America is now more honest and clear about the security challenges Israel faces and the open and democratic values that Israelis and Americans share. Our other critical accomplishment has been to educate the press and the public about the threat of a nuclear Iran. Still, however, there is a long way to go!
I am a spiritual person and feel blessed by all the good opportunities I have. I also feel I have a moral obligation to the legacy of so much of my family who were killed in the Holocaust. They did not get the opportunity to make the world a better place. I want to do my part in tikkun olam.
Favorite Jewish food: Gefilte fish
Favorite Jewish or Yiddish phrase: “Im tirzu, ain zo agada” (If you will it, it is no dream.
– Theodor Herzl)
Favorite ritual: Shabbat dinner with my family
Motto: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, or the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” (Charles Darwin)
Guilty pleasures: Country music, “Entourage”, e-mailing at 5 a.m.
Favorite movie: “Bucket List” or “Last Holiday”
Favorite book: I’m dyslexic and didn’t read well until I was 12. I like shorter formats than books. I love newspapers and magazines!
Living hero: A tie between Shimon Peres and my daughter, who is a stroke survivor.
Hero of all time: My great aunt Ella – WOW – escaped the Nazis and built a business in 22 countries. What a role model!
Greatest accomplishment: I married a mensch and have wonderful children.
11th commandment: Plan your work and work your plan.
Greatest regret? That it took me so long to find my husband!
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