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March 25, 2013 11:11 am

Jewish Owned PR Firm Hired by Saudi Arabia

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. Photo: wiki commons.

Richard Edelman is the CEO of Edelman, the largest PR firm in the world. The company is a market leader which does amazing work for a wide variety of clients. Professionally he has had amazing success and his company continues to do inspiring work. Edelman has nearly 5,000 employees all over the world and is professionally admired by many of us who work in the PR industry.

Having spent time with him, I know that Richard and his family are passionate about Judaism and Israel. His legendary father, who recently passed away, Dan Edelman, served on the Board of the Committee for Economic Growth of Israel and was honored by The Jewish United Fund. Richard is a proud Jew who told the Jewish Chronicle how he would market the Jewish State: “Israel has done a very good job with technology and bio-science. It would be good to have a few more hero faces, like technology entrepreneur Shai Agassi. Make the Israel story less about politics and more much more about all the people who are making real breakthroughs in technology – a business-focused image as opposed to consumer.”

Richard is Jewish and therefore considered an infidel within Islamist societies. Interestingly, this Infidel’s company has been hired by Saudi Arabia’s permanent mission to the United Nations to provide creative services and strategic counsel. According to a federal lobbying filing the company is working on a variety of assignments, including event development, strategic counsel and other communications matters.

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Is it possible that Saudi Arabia does not know that they hired an infidel? What kind of accommodations will they have to make for him if he visits the country? It is no secret that Saudi Arabia makes it very difficult for Jews to visit the country, and most who do must travel on a passport without an entrance stamp to Israel on its pages.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been no Jewish activity in the country. Saudi Arabia bars anyone from bringing into Saudi Arabia religious ritual objects, including religious texts, from any faith other than Islam, effectively banning religiously observant Jews from entering the country. If Muslims convert to another religion, the penalty is execution.

Of course, it is not only Jews who are not treated well there.  Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t recognize the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Saudi courts allow beheading and stoning, and the US State Department says “discrimination against women is a significant problem” in Saudi Arabia.

As Public Relations is a highly female dominated profession, what will the Saudi PR team look like? Saudi Arabian women are required to have a male guardian and need their guardian’s permission for marriage and divorce, travel, if under 45, education; employment and opening a bank account, and they are not permitted to drive or vote.

Rahima Abdul Rahman Abdullah, special advisor to the Saudi ambassador is named as Edelman’s Saudi contact – let’s hope his fate is better than that of the seven men in Saudi Arabia who were executed by the government this month – after being tortured and without lawyers or the right to appeal at their trial.

This country denies Israel’s right to exist, rejects Jews and Jewish accomplishments and is a breeding ground for Islamist terrorism – often against Jewish, Israeli or Western targets. Yet, when needed, it takes full advantage of one of the premier public relations firms owned and run by a devoted Jew. Is it irony or pragmatism?  Maybe both!

Of course, a very good first step for organic PR has already occurred recently – Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council is reconsidering the driving ban on women.  Modernization may yet come to the Middle East.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a Top 25 U.S. PR firm.  He is also a devoted Jew who lives in Manhattan with his family.

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  • Saudi Athiest

    I am outraged and deeply offended to see that you are presenting facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis that cannot be farther from the truth. This is why I never trust the main stream media.

  • Aylet Shachar

    WTF does this story have to do with a picture of the blood on the sidewalk in Boston today?

  • E Pluribus Beagle

    Finally a worthless someone I can actually endorse being boycotted. His company and him, personally needs to be protested.

  • Saudi Expat

    Hi Ron….both sides are at fault and anyone who denies that is living an illusion of a life. What Israel has done in Palestine is partly to blame for why the Saudi’s act the way they do toward Jews in general. Jews and Christians used to live side by side peacefully on The Arabian Peninsula before it became Saudi Arabia.

    Personally I know a few Jews who have come to work in KSA but you are correct about the passport issue. Even non-Jews are not allowed to have a stamp from Israel in their passports. I suspect a Saudi would have as much difficulty getting in to Israel? Saying that, exceptions are always made here.

    As for companies owned by Jews working with Saudis, this is nothing new. Business is Business and if dialogue and interaction are not practiced, no progress will ever follow.

    I think the irony is that in Saudi, no one will care if a Jew owns the company or not (generalizing here) but the backlash may come from conservative, agenda driven Jews of which you seem to be one?

    You also have a misconception of woman working in Saudi. Saudi woman do work here. It is not a common practice amongst woman and they do need their Guardians permission to do so, but a lot of Saudi woman actually work and are sought after because they are highly educated (averaging 2 degrees) and they work hard. The government has encouraged woman to work, and it is certainly not against any law for a woman to work here.

    Also your statement that Saudi is a breeding ground for Islamist terrorists is not actually accurate. The government here have a zero tolerance policy toward terrorists who are regularly outed, arrested and only sometimes executed (if they are guilty of murder). The government here works very closely with The American government (and other governments) to manage terrorism. Your article seems to insinuate the government is in on the development of terrorists, but that is a misconception. All countries are breeding grounds for fanaticism, including Israel, and no fanaticism is good….not just Islamic fanaticism!

    Africa has actually become the new breeding ground, mainly because terrorists have been pushed out from Saudi and other Arab countries, but Africa is poor and vulnerable. Does Israel do anything of consequence in Africa to alleviate poverty? It would be in their interests to consider doing so.

    Like everything, making a comment on something you have not actually observed yourself is risky. Add in to that your heritage and love for your religion and you end up with an inaccurate article such as the one you have written here.

    I do wish for the day when more Jews could be allowed in to this country to meet average normal (non extremist) Arabs, who just like everyone else, want peace, a good job and a roof over their heads, and a place to call home. Pitty the Palestinians cannot have that feeling!

    BTW I am not a muslim, have never been one, come from a mixed Jewish/Christian background (Father was Jewish) and am an Agnostic, so I have no agenda towards any religion.

    • Bernard Ross

      The saudis have been breeding terror everywhere, They are the suppliers of arms and jihdis to Syria and libya right now. They supplied the jihadi foreign mercenaries to 80’s afghanistan. They are the foremost funders of the golbal terror network. They created the forerunners to the taliban in conjunction with the pakistan ISI. Al Qaeda is a saudi creation. They just like to ship all the jihadis out of saudi to wreak havoc everywhere else. It is odd that they claim to have no connection and yet they are using them in syria at this moment. The supposed al qaeda threats on saudi are a red herring to distract from the obvious. The saudi-wahhabi compact involves the exporting of the most violent, radical, extremist islam globally through their investment in mosques, madrassas, college campuses, ngo’s, etc. The preachers of this brand of islam globally are the most violent and intolerant. I am sorry to say that your apologism is disingenuous. To be frank I considered the sauds to be a despicable clan and a cancer on the earth. The fact that they are obscenely rich and influential, buying everyone including this jewish firm, does not ameliorate their behavior.

    • Please remember that 1,000,000 Jews were forced out, by persecution, torture and murder from the Arab world and also the Islamic world which started as world war two was raging and ended at it’s zenith on the inception of the state of Israel in may 1948. We the Jews of the Arab world outnumbered the Arab refugees of the former British Mandate of Palestine by almost two to one, however you don’t seem to be able to acknowledge our plight which was even greater. As fro 14th February 2014 this day will be known as the the Commemoration day of the Jewish refugees from Arab and Islamic lands.

  • Faisal Saudi Arabian

    dear Ron,

    jewish roots are always here in Saudi Arabia and Islam IRS self is the biggest advertiser for the israel GOG and culture , but business is a way to bring us more togather by time . Saudi and jewish are one nation if you understand Islam correctly .


  • You can do better than this.

    Jews are not considered “infidels” by Muslims as you claim. Jews and Christians are considered “people of the book” in the Quran and are respected by Musilms.

    There are no “special accommodations” which would need to be made for a visit by Mr. Edelman. Jews visit Saudi Arabia all the time and there are many Jews and Israelis who have ties to Saudi.

    Please don’t believe everything you see on Fox News.

    Hopefully the PR effort does some good in addressing misconceptions like this.

    • Bruce Wrong

      Bruce: How many synagogues exist in Saudia Arabia or anywhere in the Arab world for that matter?
      Perhaps liberals like you think otherwise – but in the Arab world Jews cant exist.

  • LOL

    Rahima is a female name you clown. Get your facts straight about something as simple as checking someone’s gender, before you act like an expert about a country, a religion, or a culture. It amazes me that people like you are allowed near a computer with internet connectivity.

  • So I guess that explains the relationship between Steve Rubel and Robert Scoble. A lot of money to be made by progressive Jews to pretend their social media pals are fair.

  • Shalom Ronn, you wrote a pretty interestig article. Sorry to break it to you buddy, but when money and personal interests are are involved, it completely changes the emotional aspect. Dont take it personal Ronn, its just business 🙂

  • richard sherman

    Sorry Ron…If Edelman takes Saudi money he cares as much about the Jewish people as Gertrude Stein….I guess he lives in denial about all those road signs in Saudi Arabia that say Muslims Only….just like Nazi Germany….Edelman…Gertrude Stein…No difference…