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October 10, 2012 2:29 pm

The Top 10 Living Spokespeople for Jews and Israel

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Elie Wiesel with former President George W. Bush and the Dalai Lama. Photo: wiki commons.

From Abba Eban to Menachem Begin, and from the Lubavitcher Rebbe to Theodore Herzl, there is a valiant history of great Israeli & Jewish advocates who understood public relations and have been of enormous help to the Jewish people and Israel. Today public relations is more important than ever before.

As the great Zionist leader Ze’ev Jabotinsky said: “The work of the publicist is a legacy from the Prophets of Israel…Our passion is to speak, to proclaim—”Shouting” is what the same audience calls it, ‘we have no need for words, give us actions.’ One thing that audience forgets is that speech is also an action – Perhaps the most authentic of all other actions. Cities have been destroyed, and more will fall, but what was shouted in the wilderness thousands of years ago is alive and still relevant. The world was created by the word. The world will be mended by the article.”

Good public relations is a necessity for the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Here then is a list of the Top Ten Living Spokespeople for Jews and Israel. These are people who help Israel and the Jewish people’s image and brand, and help foster a love for Israel and Judaism.

In no particular order here’s my list – compiled by a Zionist PR Agency owner, not a rabbinical authority or governmental entity.

  • Benjamin Netanyahu: A no-brainer, The Israeli Prime Minister is the epitome of a strong, passionate leader with an unwavering commitment to the survival and strength of the Jewish state. He is well-spoken, speaks “American”, and captivates audiences worldwide with his vast Public Relations skills.
  • Alan Dershowitz: The famed Harvard law professor is a stalwart defender of Israel. He regularly stands front and center discussing the need and importance of the Jewish state. As he says in his great book “The Case for Israel”, there are “unfair attacks on the only democracy in the Middle East.” While his politics may not always be right, his two fundamental viewpoints on Israel, which he describes and discusses so clearly and passionately in the book, are dead-on: The right of Israel to exist and thrive as a Jewish state, and the right of Israel to defend itself and its citizens.
  • Chabad Emissaries Worldwide: It’s often said that one can find two items all over the world – Coca Cola and Chabad. The Shluchim (emissaries) of Chabad work hard to show the beauty, warmth and wisdom of Judaism in cities worldwide, and the simple concept that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson stated was, “Begin with a mitzvah (good deed) — any mitzvah — its value will not be diminished by the fact that there are others that you are not prepared to do.”
  • Dennis Miller: The comedian and political thinker is often in the mainstream media discussing the vast dangers facing Israel (and America) by the Muslim dominated Middle East. Just last week he urged America that every time Egypt chose to “screw up”, U.S. aid dollars meant to flow to Cairo should be redirected to Jerusalem. He is charismatic, clear and a cherished voice in the media on Israel and Western values.
  • Mark Regev: The Australian-born Israeli diplomat and media spokesman currently serves as a spokesperson for the Prime Minister of Israel and an advisor on foreign press and public affairs. He formerly served as a spokesperson for Israel in Beijing, and Washington, D.C., and excels at his job of protecting and defending Israel. As an article in The Guardian said: “If the men from Mars ever wanted to manufacture a PR man, they would model their robot on Regev. No matter how formidable the interviewer, or how aggressive the questioning, he never buckles under pressure. His disarming Aussie accent and unfailing politeness – he calls interviewers “Sir” and uses phrases like “I beg to disagree” – almost lulls listeners into overlooking his aggression.””…As a PR performer he is horribly compelling.”
  • Elie Wiesel: The Nobel Prize winner and Jewish hero is a living embodiment of survival. The man is a symbol of so much of Jewish history, and has been outspoken on so many important Jewish issues. He speaks and the world listens. As he says, “Jerusalem must remain the spiritual capital of the Jewish people”, and “As a Jew I see my role as a melitz yosher, a defender of Israel: I defend even her mistakes… I must identify with whatever Israel does…” As he has been known to tell critics of Israel, “The nations that kept silent during the Holocaust ought to keep silent now as well. The world that then condemned itself by its silence has lost all rights to judge Israel now.”
  • Noa Tishby: Named “sexiest woman in Israel”, today Tishby lives in LA and has credits in film and TV including NCISCSI: MiamiLas Vegas and Nip/Tuck. Her personal website boasts of her Israeli army service that she was trained to “wield any weapon like she means it and kick some serious ass.” She is an active and outspoken supporter of Israel. She’s a vocal member of AIPAC and the Israeli Leadership Council, and co-founder of Act for Israel, whose website declares, “We believe that Israel has the right to live in peace and security, and that all people deserve the right to live in dignity. Our goal is to share this centrist position with a wide audience to correct misinformation, end demonization, stop delegitimization, and to give Israel a well-needed voice.”
  • Bret Stephens: The foreign-affairs columnist of The Wall Street Journal and deputy editorial page editor formerly served as editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. For the last several years he has written repeatedly, and quite eloquently, on issues concerning the Jewish state and Jewish people.
  • Christian friends of Israel: From Pastor John Hagee to Jay Sekulow, the millions of Evangelical friends of Israel have been vitally supportive and outspoken. The Christians have stood by Israel, politically, in the media, and financially, and their public support is vital to Israel’s well-being.
  • Noah Pollak: A rising star. He’s an American political writer who contributes regularly to mainstream media and heads the Emergency Committee for Israel. He was formally an assistant editor of the Middle East Quarterly, and before that worked for Azure Magazine.

Honorable mentions: Broadcasters Mike Huckabee & Glenn Beck, Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Israeli scholar from Bar-Ilan University), Rabbi Avi Weiss, Ido Aharoni (Diplomat & creator of the “Brand Israel” concept), David Saranga (former Consul for Media Affairs of Israel in the US, whom The Jewish Chronicle described as “The man whose campaigns are re-branding Israel”), Dan Gillerman (Israel’s longtime representative at the UN) and every Jew who supports Israel in digital media in this era of citizen journalism.

In the Torah, as Moses hands over the mantle to his successor he says two short yet inspiring words to this future leader, in Hebrew Chazak Ve-ematz – Be Strong and Have Courage. Be strong and have courage in supporting Israel in the media. The Jewish people of Israel live: Am Israel Chai.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a top 25 US PR agency. His book “For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations” has been called “the best book ever on Israel public relations” by the Deputy Speaker of the Israel Knesset, Danny Danon.

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  • JLK

    I would add:

    Anne Bayefsky to this list – supremely intelligent and articulate, the best UN watchdog around.

    John Bolton – we need someone like him again

    Jose Maria Aznar – former Spanish Prime Minister who started the Friends of Israel Initiative

  • Eric R.

    How did you not put Charles Krauthammer and Jon Voight in the top 5, let alone the top 10?

    You might also want to throw in both Hannity AND Limbaugh – while Israel is not a frequent topic for either, when the topic does come up, they are both passionately pro-Israel and command 10+ million viewers/listeners each.

    A few more honorable mentions here include Canadian PM Harper, Mark Levin, Dennis Prager (actually just about any conservative talk show host on American broadcast radio), and Liz Cheney.

  • MBenFaivol

    Really interesting topic, and could add many whose living history is not just in writings that go unthanked, unpublished, and often untrumpeted. More interesting for Algemeiner would be its readership making suggestions worthy of a series of articles leading eventually to a book.

    What does “Algemeiner” think???

  • Simcha

    Almost all of the above on the list have serious flaws.

    The man who towers above all others in speaking for Israel and for Jews is Moshe Feiglin.

    May he be Prime Minister soon.

  • Chaya

    I would add Jon Voight to the list.

  • Eli

    Yup, John (if that is his real name) is very misinformed. Chabad are not missionaries, far from it, as they only want to bring Jewish people closer, not proletyzing to other religions. Oops, there might have been words in that sentence that are too big for Mr. John D. to understand.

    In addition, only the minority (de facto the loudest) proclaim publicly that the late Rebb e is the Moshiach.

    Sir, it pays to know your facts before you shoot off at the mouth

    • MBenFaivol

      Perhaps you may wish to revisit the meaning of the word “shaleach” as it is an emissary. One who is an enissary is on a mission, hence “Missionary”. Come on, get with it, “Be Strong, be strong and let us support one another”

  • Diogenes

    Glenn Beck? You must be joking. Beck’s obsession with Jews bears all the earmarks of classic anti-Semitism. In January, 2011, he spread the old canard of Jewish deicide: “If he was a victim, and this theology was true, then Jesus would have come back from the dead and made the Jews pay for what they did.” And his persistent, scurrilous attacks on George Soros’s Jewishness led 400 rabbis, from every branch of Judaism, to take out an ad calling on him to cease and desist.

  • ruvain w.

    Where is Charles Krauthammer ? He surely belongs on this list , for the past 20 years he’s always written about Israel in a positive light.He’s a very talented persuasive writer who’s been very influential in the media.

  • Howard Stein

    I would include Sean Hannity who always speaks loudly and clearly for Israel and against antisemitism. He never fails to call attention to the virtues of the first and the crime of the second. He is a mensch in a world with too few of them.

    Yes, he might be rehabilitating Pat Buchanan, but he has always criticized Buchanan’s antisemitism and distinguished himself from it. I might not like his choice of friends in this case. However, his capacity for being a good friend makes him a good and outspoken friend of ours. And, remember, Sean is not a Jew. That is, he doesn’t have to take the heat; he chooses to.

  • PAMELA GELLER should be on this list..She has been fighting the good fight for Jews everywhere against Muslims who revere Muhammad who decapitated 900 unarmed Jews at Quaraza.

  • Mordechai Maimon

    Dear Algemeiner,

    I must write to say that this is deeply flawed. Top 10 lists, unless they are the kind of top 10 lists that appear on ESPN, are meant to elevate our aspirations and turn our gaze towards those who deserve our respect. In medieval Judaism, there was a legend, described by Gershom Scholem of the “Tzaddikim.” In every generation, the top spirits would rise to become leaders of the Jews. These Tzaddikim were people of excellent character and were not always the obvious picks. This list does not do justice to the spirit of our tradition. I understand, Mr. Torrosian, that you are not, as you say, a “Rabbinic authority” or “government entity” but even if your goal is “Hasbara,” this list does not necessarily put forward our best face. There is a difference, sir, between the souls who sow the seeds for a stronger Jewish people, those people who engender the respect for Jewish individuals that finds its manifestation in public policy, and those most involved with the “Hasbara Industry.” Respect for Jews in Israel and the Diaspora is not a PR campaign. With all due respect to Noah Pollack and William Kristol, the founders of the Emergency Committee for Israel, the respect, the “personal relations” on behalf of Israel and the diaspora in both America and Europe is not a short-term project, but a long-term exigency.

    Here is an alternative list, not necessarily of the best known Jews, but those Jews who make the American population feel like their support for Israel is a badge of honor even when the Europeans and left-leaning academics they most respect tend to question their support.

    1. Itamar Rabinovich’s trustworthy diplomacy has anchored American respect for Israel. Rabinovich models a kind of statesmanship in the tradition of Rabin that acknowledges the importance of ties with America but insists that the two countries are separate. He is also a subtle and balanced historian of, and actor in, the peace process.

    2. Rabbi David Wolpe Wolpe’s idea of a “covenantal Judaism” has enabled him to reach out to Jews and Christians all over America and inspire them to live a life committed to the covenant of God. His writing and poetry attune us to what is enduring in our tradition and reminds us of the ephemerality of the newspaper affairs that divide us.

    2. Gorenberg ensures that American Jews uphold their political integrity by criticizing imperialism wherever it shows up. Gorenberg demonstrates that caring about Israel and Judaism is an active process that requires us to use our critical faculties. He has reassured those concerned that Gush Emunim is not the only way of being a religious supporter of Israel and helped to articulate an alternative to some of the religious extremism in the settlements.

    3. Paul Mendes-Flohr. Mendes-Flohr’s classic articles from the 1960s and 70s carry in the tradition of Scholem and Buber while still arguing for a Jewish homeland. Mendes-Flohr has consistently articulated the ways that Jews can uphold their critical inheritance from late 18th and 19th century Judaism while living in a Jewish state.

    4. Ruth Gavison’s work in Israel contributes the “PR” by showing how it might be possible for Jews to uphold universal ideals while living in a particularistic state. Her Metzilah Center has championed a fusion of humanist thought that can soften some of the rough edges in contemporary Israel.

    5. Alain Finkielkraut and Schmuel Trigano. Respectively, Finkielkraut and Trigano represent the secular and religious spirit in contemporary Jewish France. They’ve articulated the importance of a Jewish state given France’s history and combine academic and Jewish scholarship in an exemplary way.

    6. Joschka Fischer. Joschka Fischer in Germany is one of the main reasons why the German left-liberals still respect Israel. His vigilant critiques of the state of Israel tempered in his split with the terrorist Ulrike Meinhof in the 1960s. By maintaining his independence and re-affirming the importance of human rights, he has exemplified a more balanced way of caring about Israel during a time when the cause became unpopular in many strains of the the European left in the 1970s and 80s.

    7. Avishai Margalit and Moshe Halbertal. Margalit and Halbertal, with their published works together, have demonstrated what it might look like for Israel to honor both its Halakhic and secular citizens. Margalit’s essays embody the critical spirit of the haskalah while still trying to carve out a path for Jewish leadership in Israel. Similarly, Halbertal’s writings on war ethics have provided needed to leadership that illuminate for secular and religious Israeli citizens alike a way of maintaining their integrity while in imbalanced wars. He has explained to Jews, and the world, the difference between a patriot and a war criminal.

    8. Norman Lamm and Jonathan Sacks. Lamm’s leadership of Yeshiva University over the past several decades has been a staple of American political life and a model for how observant jews can balance a respect for America with their ties to Israel. Further, his halakhic and scriptural writings have enabled American Jews to adapt to different scientific discoveries in the second half of the twentieth century and maintained public respect for the Jewish tradition. Sacks in England occupies a similar position in England as Lamm does in America. His works have sought to rescue the “radical” aspects of Judaism and to combine them with respect for Israel.

    9. Menachem Lorberbaum and Michael Walzer. The common project of these two men on Jewish political thought has opened up a new respect for the political significance of Jewish texts. This new respect gives people a higher view of Israel as a place that may be able to actualize a revised understanding of the political ideas in these texts. Moreover, Lorberbaum’s re-reading of medieval Jewish sources has laid the groundwork the legitimacy of a sphere of political discourse in Israel that is not theocratic, but more secular.

    10. Aharon Lichtenstein. The head of Yeshivat Har Etzion, Lichtenstein dutifully carries forward the legacy of Soloveitchik. His “PR” is that he shows how modern Orthodox Judaism can be more respectful of women. In a time where people like R. Moshe Meiselman try to claim the Soloveitchik legacy for themselves in order to prevent women from learning gemara, Lichtenstein has stood tall as someone who can show us how to honor women without compromising the rigors of our talmudic inheritance. As someone who firmly supported the Oslo accords, he shows the world that Jewish tradition and the pursuit of peace are not at odds with one another.

    This is an alternative list. This is not the list of those who are always in the spotlight, but if you ask those in the spotlight who has done the most to make Jews and the project of a Jewish and democratic state most worthy of respect, these names would undoubtedly come up. There are, of course, others. But here is where I would start.

    • The statement that the world was created by the word I understand.But Torah tells us that this is Hashems word.
      The article that can mend the world-I hardly think that is an appropriate sentence to follow.
      Lets not lose the line between the human and Hashem,where our “dreams” and our PR end us thrown into a hole by our own brothers, to be sold by a caravan of Ishmaelites.

      I do believe that if each of us mends ourselves,as the prophets exhorted our leaders ,prophet after prophet,we will find ourselves living in a different set of circumstances.

      Hashem wants the Jews in the former land of Canaan,known as the State of Israel. Otherwise we would be out of there in one instant,be it a drawn out lots of instances or just one. Jews such as myself, not living in the Holy Land,are connected to it by the umbilical cord of human history,and the souls of spiritual history.

      Both lists are superb human beings, and I am grateful for the second, because I am less familiar with these individuals.I will try to follow their writings.

      I think Parshas Nitzavim made it very clear where G-d resides,not far away,but close, in the heart,in the mouth.Private internal relations develop deeper more authentic truth.Public relations,if emanating from deep inner authenticity and perception of other humans as part of a world made and loved by a compassionate and abundant Creator will naturally improve. The whole northern kingdom was destroyed and ten tribes lost because of poor public relations between Jews,among other things.So lets not reinvent the wheel because we have a few gadgets.Lets truly change,one kind,humble,hopeful,parve word at a time.

    • AmShalem

      For the French I would have say Bernard Henri Levy rather than Trigano and Finkielkraut.
      BHL is a constant stong voice and actor through it’s action with direct implication for the good of the Jewish People and Israel…

      I agreee that it’s time for the people of Israel to “create” personalities that fit globalization and that in a way unite the Jewish People.

  • Richie A.

    Great list of Public Relations people by Ronn Torossian of 5WPR. Thank you ronn

  • hophmi

    A dumb list that assumes that the only good spokespeople for Israel are conservatives. Wake up, people. Israel’s image is in the tank. Netanyahu is not a good spokesperson for Israel unless you are a Likudnik with your head in the sand and you enjoy nothing more than being told what you want to hear instead of the truth.

    • MH8169

      You seem to have a problem…I suggest you see a shrink and work out your anger issues.

  • John D

    The list is rediculous.

    Chabad are missionaries who think that they’re dead rabbi is the messiah.

    Eli Wiesel, has championed and promted the image of the weak Jew, and is precisely the best example of who NOT to have representing the Jewish people.

    Noa Tishbi? I think that Ron just wants to get laid really bad.

    Alan Dershowitz is a rank and file democrat and Obama supporter. Today democrat= communist.

    Bibi is a great orator no doubt, and any right wing christian preacher is more qualified than any of the rest on this list.

    • Fredric M. London

      Democrats are NOT communist. Any communist would be offended by the comment. Democrats are, and always have been, diverse in their opinions. Many, including our ‘fearless leader’ have, unfortunately, become big time proponents of politically-coerced censorship. That is a shame and a tragedy. However, when looking at the Republicans (Republican=theocratic fascist), ANYONE would look more human.

  • Miriam A.

    How can a list of top Israel PR people not include Shimon Peres ? The man is amazing.

    • MH8169

      With due respect, I find Mr. Peres a manipulator, person with cloudy integrity. His history shows that he has one objective: Shimon Peres. I respect the office of President but the man who occupies that position is not someone that I respect.

  • Mitch Kendall

    Unfortunately your “top ten” is slanted to Americans. If you want to see one of the greatest advocates for Israel on the interntional scene, research the words and deeds of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. You will find no better spokesperson for Israel!

    • Fredric M. London

      Here here!

      • hadassa

        there there! please learn to spell, Mr. London.

  • Richard T.

    Netanyahu is amazing for Israel Public Relations – and should remain forever @least the Foreign Minister.