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December 4, 2019 8:26 am

How a Billionaire Is Working to Repair Israel’s Public Image

avatar by Ronn Torossian

Opinion

Sylvan Adams. Photo: YouTube screenshot.

The great Jewish leader Hillel said: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?”

For as long as anyone can remember, Israel has suffered from poor public relations. Today, Sylvan Adams, a billionaire — and recent immigrant to Israel from Canada — is working to change that, by making it his mission to bring notable and amazing events to Israel to help people worldwide recognize the greatness of the country.

Adams is embodying the very definition of which Hillel spoke — acting and taking care of the people of Israel by promoting Israel and enhancing the daily lives of its citizens.

This past week, he was responsible for bringing the Argentinian and Uruguayan soccer teams to play a friendly match in Tel Aviv, which featured perhaps the most famous player in the world, Lionel Messi. As Adams noted, this event exposes “normal Israel” to the world, and he is so right.

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Too many people wrongly think Israel is all about tanks and war — when in reality, day to day life in Israel is filled with scooters, good food, and among the happiest people in the world.

Previously, Adams spent over $5 million to bring the Giro d’Italia bike race — the second most prestigious bicycle race in the world after the Tour de France — to Israel. He was thrilled that two Israelis were the first-ever Israelis selected to participate, because it meant that television viewers would see the word “Israel” in large letters on their riding shirts, and would hear Israel mentioned more than 100 times during television coverage.

He has also assisted in Madonna’s appearance at the Eurovision song contest in Israel, the SpaceIL effort to land spacecraft on the moon, and so much more.

As Adams recently said, “My experience with first-time visitors to Israel, they’re almost universally shocked and surprised because Israel is not what they expected. The journalists here have to file stories, it’s not very interesting to say the sun rose and we had blue skies and the sea was tranquil, usually their stories are of the negative variety. And people have this tendency to be surprised. They come here and they see the country is open, tolerant, liberal, democratic, and most of all, safe.”

Adams is right — people don’t get it, and seeing soccer, Madonna, and bike races is likely to open the eyes of so many people who don’t care about politics. Public relations really matter.

Adams is also the only Israeli member of the Giving Pledge, which was begun by Warren Buffet together with Bill and Melinda Gates for billionaires committed to giving away the majority of their wealth to philanthropic pursuits. His charitable work also provides doctoral scholarships in Israel, led to the construction of a children’s hospital at Wolfson Hospital in Holon and a new emergency room at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, a project to supply laptops to special education teachers, a scholarship program for promising artists, and so much more.

All friends of Israel need to stand up and say thank you to Sylvan Adams. His work will help the State of Israel and the Jewish people on so many fronts.

Ronn Torossian founded one of the largest Public Relations firms in the United States.

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