Posted by David Suissa
It’s indicative of Israel’s PR acumen—or lack thereof—that when a crisis strikes, the reflex of the leadership is to head for the bunker. The Flotilla fiasco will go down as one of Israel’s biggest PR disasters. This was no Israeli commando raid in response to years of terrorist attacks or rockets raining on civilians. This was a raid to protect a blockade that has very little international support, and against a boat that was dressed up as a humanitarian mission. Yes, of course, it was an ambush. The “protestors” were more like terrorist thugs than they were rowdy protestors looking for a photo op.
Unfortunately and tragically, however, in the mayhem that followed the raid, Israeli commandoes killed at least 10 of these violent protestors. Now ask yourself: If the world comes down so hard on Israel when it defends itself against years of rocket attacks from genocidal terrorists, how will they react to these killings against a “humanitarian mission” that has worldwide support?
That’s why Prime Minister Netanyahu should have kept his appointment tomorrow with President Obama, instead of returning to Israel to “deal with the crisis.” Didn’t anyone tell him that the immediate crisis he has to deal with right now is outside of Israel?
The condemnations from around the world are coming at a furious pace, and it will get a lot worse in the coming days. The Flotilla Fiasco will make Goldstone look like a picnic.
The meeting with Obama was a perfect opportunity for Bibi to try to stem the tide of condemnations by providing some much-needed context.
One thing is clear: If you believe you have a case to make to influence the court of public opinion, there is no better place to do it than at the White House with the U.S. president by your side.
With the cameras of the world on him, Bibi could have said something like:
“We deeply regret the tragic deaths and injuries that occurred yesterday on the Gaza seas. Our condolences go out to all the families that were touched by this tragedy. We already have some evidence that this was a deliberate provocation by a group with terrorist connections. But I’m here to say that upon my return to Israel, I will immediately convene an independent commission of inquiry to gather all the facts and investigate how this tragedy happened so that we can prevent its re-occurrence.
“I’m also here to say that Israel does not want this blockade. It is a last resort. Our deepest wish is to live in peace with our neighbors. This blockade was forced on us by neighbors whose deepest wish is not to live in peace with us, but to destroy us. The goal of the blockade is not to hurt Palestinian civilians but to prevent the transfer of material and military equipment that is aimed solely at killing innocent Israeli civilians. We have allowed humanitarian aid to flow to Gaza during the blockade and will continue to do so.
“I ask the Palestinian leaders of Gaza today: Give us a statement of peace, give us some evidence that you are ready to live in peace as good neighbors, that you are ready to engage with us in good faith, and I will end the blockade immediately.”
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May 31, 2010 | 10:17 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
Twelve hours after Israeli Naval commandoes stormed ships carrying humanitarian aid into Gaza, the Israeli government has released video footage of the event that has now become an international debacle.
While most of the six ships organized by the Free Gaza Movement surrendered peacefully to the navy, passengers on one ship offered violent resistance, and the results were tragic: Israeli commandos opened fire and killed at least nine Turkish nationals, and two Israelis were seriously wounded.
It is far too early to draw conclusions about what happened to provoke this tragedy and why, as not all the facts are in. But the Israeli government-released footage, seen here, does purport to show the beginnings and aftermath of a protest meant to turn violent. The video has not been independently verified. Here is an embed version, without the Hebrew commentary:
But without drawing conclusions, there is ample room for questions. Perhaps the most obvious arises from a line embedded toward the bottom of a newspaper report on the incident: Israel intends to deliver the 10,000 pounds of humanitarian aid by truck to Gaza once the contents are inspected. In other words, the material would have arrived in Gaza anyway. Israel prevented the ships because they saw it as a political provocation.
Danny Ayalon, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, described the flotilla as a “provocation” and said it was a political stunt. “The organizers’ intent was violent, their method was violent and the results were unfortunately violent,” said Ayalon.
All of which raises these questions:
1. Why not inspect the cargo in Turkey or at sea and allow the protesters through? Eventually the delivery of free stuff stops being news, and the money dries up.
2. Where was the vaunted Israeli intelligence to prepare soldiers for the consitions they would face on board?
3. To what extent were Turkish officials briefed and warned beforehand?
4. Why is Israel protecting its blockade of Gaza, when it should be protecting Israel? In other words, if the goal is to keep weapons out, why not inspect the cargo for weapons, then let it through.
5. Finally, the questions that keeps arising—If the number one existential threat to Israel is Iran’s nuclear capability, as Prime Minister Netanyahu, the Israeli government and American Jewish leaders have been saying for years, why take actions which weaken Israel’s ability to build exactly the kind of international coalition necessary to stop Iran?
May 26, 2010 | 5:54 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
A delegation of top Federation leadership from around North America are meeting today and tomorrow in Washington D.C. to discuss U.S. relations with Israel, Iran and other key issues affecting the Jewish communities at large. The group of more than 30 will talk to congressional leadership and several members of the Obama administration.
Representing Los Angeles will be The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles Chairman Richard Sandler and President Jay Sanderson.
The press release:
Jewish Federation movement leaders from across the United States will convene in Washington, D.C. this week to meet with Administration and senior Congressional officials including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, on Israel, Iran and other key issues vital to the Jewish community.
The delegation to Washington includes more than 30 prominent Federation leaders. Participants will share their thoughts on key policy issues developed from numerous discussions within their communities.
The Jewish Federations in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Jersey (MetroWest and Northern NJ,) New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, South Florida and Washington, D.C. are expected to attend. Representatives of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) will also participate.
According to Israeli news reports, The Jewish Federation mission to Washington will occur just prior to a planned White House meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Prime Minister Netanyahu is expected to meet with President Obama next week, following a visit to Canada this weekend.
“This week’s series of meetings is an opportunity for us to share a perspective that we believe represents the Federation communities and to listen to what the Administration has to say about these important issues,” said Kathy Manning, chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America.
“We look forward to an open and frank exchange of views on the U.S.-Israel relationship, the peace process, and on efforts to ensure that Iran is prevented from attaining a nuclear capacity,” said William C. Daroff, vice president for public policy and director of The Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office.
Plans for the delegation’s visit were put in place after media reports of increased tensions between the United States, Israel and the broader Jewish community following Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East earlier this year and reports of tense meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Meetings this week are scheduled at the White House with the Honorable George Mitchell, Special Envoy for the Middle East; Ambassador Dennis Ross, Special Assistant to the President; Daniel Shapiro, Senior Director for Middle East & North Africa, Office of the National Security Council; Susan Sher, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady; and Danielle Borrin, Associate Director, Office of Public Engagement.
The delegation will also meet at the U.S. Capitol Building with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD); House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA); Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Howard Berman (D-CA); House Republican Conference Chair, Mike Pence (R-IN); Democratic Chief Deputy Whip, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL); and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
The delegation meetings, which are closed to press, are scheduled for today and tomorrow.
May 19, 2010 | 8:48 am
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania’s longest-serving senator, lost his bid to run for re-election as a Democrat to Rep. Joe Sestak, the Associated Press reports.
With 79 percent of precincts reporting, Sestak received 53 percent of the votes, AP reports; Specter received about 47 percent.
Sestak’s victory marks a striking triumph over the establishment candidate, who just last month had a more than 20-point lead in polls.
Read the full story at CBS.com.
May 18, 2010 | 1:55 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Haaretz released a series of articles Tuesday exploring the controversy surrounding the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem. The following are links to the stories. We also include below a video in which Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles discusses in depth the Jerusalem Museum of Tolerance project.
Check back for updates and further development.
Sometimes a lack of sensitivity or even an innocent mistake exposes a major truth. On the Web site of Moriah, a public company for infrastructure work that belongs to the Jerusalem municipality, one can find descriptions of various projects in which the company is involved. Among them is the Museum of Tolerance: “The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the entrepreneur for the construction of the Museum of Tolerance in central Jerusalem, asked Moriah to carry out preparatory and infrastructure work for the project,” says the site. Immediately afterward, under the heading “Objective,” it says: “Carrying out infrastructure work, removal of nuisances in the area of the project ...” What the site calls “nuisances” are in fact skeletons, bones and skulls. Hundreds of skeletons that were buried in Jerusalem’s central Muslim cemetery over a period of some 1,000 years.
Read the full story at HAARETZ.com.
The first one to excavate the site and come upon human remains was archaeologist Gideon Sulimani. Sulimani, a senior archaeologist with the Antiquities Authority, would come to play a key role in the affair. In December 2005 he began a “rescue excavation” financed, as mandated by Israeli law, by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, intended to remove antiquities, or in this case, human bones, before the area was cleared for construction.
Read the full story at HAARETZ.com.
The prolonged and tangled court proceedings began at the beginning of 2006, when the Al-Aqsa Corporation, founded by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, filed a petition seeking to stop work at the site.
Read the full story at HAARETZ.com.
May 18, 2010 | 8:24 am
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Here’s some video of Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who is under fire for embellishing his war record, stating clearly in a high profile setting earlier this year: “I did not serve Vietnam.”
The video, which was sent over by the DSCC, will be central to Blumenthal’s damage control efforts in the wake of The New York Time’s stunning report saying Blumenthal never served in Vietnam despite repeatedly suggesting otherwise. The pushback from Blumenthal, the heavy favorite to win the Senate race, will be that Blumenthal did not intend to deceive.
Read the full story at WashingtonPost.com.
May 15, 2010 | 12:46 am
Posted by Tom Tugend
President Obama will sign the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act into law on Monday, May 17, joined by six members and three generations of the Pearl family.
The act, named in honor of the Wall Street Journal reporter kidnapped and decapitated by Islamic extremists in Pakistan in 2002, expands the examination of press freedom worldwide in the State Department’s annual human rights report.
“Violators of press freedom throughout the world now know that they will be closely watched. This is something our son Danny fought for all his life,” Prof. Judea Pearl said before leaving Los Angeles for Washington.
Also participating in the 11 a.m. White House ceremony will be Daniel Pearl’s mother, Ruth, sisters Michelle and Tamara, widow Mariane and son Adam Daniel, who will mark his eighth birthday on May 28.
Story continues after the jump.
Judea and Ruth Pearl, reflect on the life of their son, Daniel, and last words in this webcam video shot 1/18/2007 in the kitchen of their Encino, CA home.
Adam was born three months after the killing of his father, while the reporter was pursuing an investigative story on the Al Qaeda financial network.
The new law mandates the State Department to identify countries in which there are violations of press freedom; determine whether the government authorities of those countries participate in, facilitate, or condone the violations; and report the actions such governments have taken to preserve the safety and independence of the media and ensure the prosecution of individuals who attack or murder journalists.
Leading the legislative efforts to pass the bill was Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena), said Judea Pearl, an Israel-born UCLA professor emeritus in computer science and recognized as one of the world’s foremost experts in artificial intelligence.
Additional key sponsors were Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) in the House and Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) in the Senate.
“In many parts of the world, the freedom of the press is the last – or even the only – safeguard against the complete erosion of all human rights,” Dodd said. “With this bill, we pay tribute to Daniel’s life and his work by shedding a bright light on this repression, and hope to prevent this sort of tragedy from ever happening again.”
Following their son’s murder, Judea and Ruth Pearl established the Daniel Pearl Foundation to further Daniel’s legacy of promoting cross-cultural understanding through a global program of journalism, music and innovative communication.
May 12, 2010 | 1:12 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
In today’s Los Angeles Times, Jim Rainey focuses his “On the Media” column on the future of The Jewish Journal. His finding: the future looks pretty bright. Rainey wrote:
Few newspapers or magazines escaped 2009 without losses and the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles suffered like many others.
Operators of the weekly news outlet trimmed staff. They cut salaries 20%. Still, they worried whether the Journal — chronicler of a variety of topics including Torah portions, sexual mores, Mideast politics and entertainment industry chatter — would make it to its 25th anniversary next year.
But by banking hard on two of the most robust growth trends in 21st century media — niche journalism and philanthropy — the Jewish Journal appears to have extended its life expectancy and expanded its coverage of Jewish life in Southern California.
Rainey’s column goes on to break news about some exciting new developments here. In a press release going out today, we spell it out:
A group of leading Los Angeles Jewish philanthropists has announced a major financial commitment to The Jewish Journal, the flagship newspaper of the Los Angeles Jewish community.
The commitment will help The Jewish Journal attract new readers and advertisers, and enable it to grow across numerous media platforms.
In recognition of The Jewish Journal’s innovative multi-platform approach to community news and information, the company will reorganize as TRIBE MEDIA CORP (www.tribemediacorp.com).
TRIBE MEDIA CORP, a 501 © 3 non-profit, will stay dedicated to The Jewish Journal’s longtime mission: To strengthen the Jewish community through independent journalism and promote positive values across multiple media platforms.
“TRIBE Media Corp. will redefine community journalism for the digital age,” said Rob Eshman, editor-in-chief of The Journal. “Our goal is to use every technology at our disposal to inform and convene our community, and to bring our community’s ideas and values to society at large—while creating a thriving, sustainable business. This is the future of community journalism.”
TRIBE MEDIA CORP. will have five divisions: The weekly Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, TRIBE magazine, a new monthly magazine that started production in December, jewishjournal.com, America’s most widely used Jewish news site, TRIBE Live! Production of live events and video, and Everyjew.com a fast-growing online social network launched in August.
A philanthropic group led by The Journal’s Chairman of the Board, Irwin Field, committed a significant multi-year financial contribution to the undertaking. The group consists of Arthur H. Bilger, founding partner and managing member of Shelter Capital Partners, Peter Lowy, group managing director of the Westfield Group, and an anonymous donor. These philanthropists will join the Board and Executive Committee of Tribe Media Corp. along with Leon C. Janks, Managing Partner of Green, Hasson & Janks LLP.
“This is not just a change in name but a change in the way we do business,” said Steven Karash, Tribe Media Corp. Executive VP for Advertising and Marketing. Mr. Karash served 10 years as national advertising director in the Los Angeles office of New York Times Media Group.
“The new structure will allow us to help advertisers reach an influential, upscale and involved demographic in an efficient, affordable ways,” Karash said.
Rainey put our transition to Tribe Media Corp in the context of the larger challenge of maintaining a viable community newspaper. As he wrote:
If the experience holds lessons for other ethnic and religious-oriented publishers, it’s that you can do good by being good. But it’s just as important to have a business plan, friends in the right places and a target audience with a lot of disposable income.
The Journal, its related website and a nascent monthly magazine recently nailed down a critical $800,000 donation that should rejuvenate the organization and guarantee its viability for the foreseeable future.
The money came from four philanthropists — Westfield mall Chief Executive Peter Lowy, Internet executive and venture capitalist Art Bilger, cooking oil maker and long-time Journal board member Irwin Field and a fourth, anonymous, donor.
On a $4-million annual operating budget, the contributions will “give it a very stable foundation and allow us to grow all these parts of the operation,” said Lowy, who said he expects advertising to cover more than 90% of the expenses in future years with ongoing fundraising to cover the rest.
“The future for print media isn’t the rosiest, but this is a way we can add philanthropy to a business enterprise,” Lowy said. “This is an experiment in what I would call a community media group. The Journal is very important to the Jewish community. But we think this might work for any communal group.”
He also charted the changes trhat helped us get here, giving kudos to our terrific line up of columnists, and our journalistic content:
Among the array of columnists Eshman has brought to print: conservative radio host Dennis Prager, who recently hit the left for its readiness to invoke images of the Holocaust, and liberal academic David Myers, a UCLA history professor who wrote last year that Jewish citizens were being favored over Arabs in Jerusalem’s ceaseless land disputes.
The Journal also has first-rate commentators in other fields, with Martin Kaplan writing about media, Raphael Sonenshein about politics and Jonathan Kirsch about books.
Generally thorough and professional in tone, the Journal covers stories unlikely to pop up in other L.A. media — such as alleged financial fraud committed by a group of Iranian Jewish investment managers and the struggles of a couple who lost two grown children to violent deaths. (The latter story inspired donations from Journal readers, including one who ponied up two years of mortgage payments for the couple.)
He also nailed the tension all community media face in reporting on communities in which they live, and on which they depend for their support.
And he revealed something not generally appreciated about The Journal: we serve an enviable advertising demographic:
Most readers pick up the Jewish Journal, which is free, at businesses on the Westside and in the San Fernando Valley, while the magazine, with initial circulation of 15,000, reaches up the coast to Ventura and Santa Barbara.
The high-end readership for both publications, with an average household income said to reach above $260,000, has allowed Tribe Media Corp. to reach beyond its demographic and appeal to a new group of advertisers.
Ads for Jewish mortuaries, summer camps, charities and schools still dot its pages. But with the hiring a couple of years ago of a new top ad executive, the company has broadened its horizons significantly. Steven Karash, previously of the New York Times, has helped lure buys from Porsche dealers, the Four Seasons hotel, Saint John’s Health Center, the House of Blues and, recently, the city of Rancho Mirage, whose resorts are a frequent destination of Jewish visitors. Even Macy’s department stores are looking at hopping on board.
“People now are looking at us as a media group,” Karash said, “and not just for an ethnic buy but for a niche buy with an affluent audience.”
While Jewish news outlets in Las Vegas and other communities had been folding, the Jewish Journal made enough improvements, despite the brutal economic downturn, that it showed promise. Its expanded Web offerings, including a social networking/dating site, everyjew.com. The online audience has grown to 350,000 unique visitors a month.
Sites including laoberved.com,fishbowlla,lukeford.net and others picked up Rainey’s story, which we think is a good one for us, and for all niche media….
You can read the story here.
Jim Rainey does a video blog about the Journal here.