July 1, 2019
In Jewish tradition, 7 and 18 are unique numbers, often denoting significant passages of time. Thus it is for me. This summer marks eighteen years on the front line of the US-Israel relationship on behalf of the Jewish people and core American values, the last seven as CEO & President of The Israel Project.
It has been a tremendous privilege to partner in this sacred work with dedicated lay leaders like you, consummate professionals and colleagues, and generous donors, to whom I am profoundly grateful. Nonetheless, I’ve decided this month is the right time to conclude my tenure at TIP and pursue new challenges and opportunities.
I shared this news with our Board of Directors last month, and wanted to both share it with you, and say how grateful I am for your partnership and what we have accomplished together. I am enormously proud of TIP’s pioneering work throughout its history and so many impactful accomplishments over the past seven years.
Some of these include:
•Launching an award winning online magazine, TheTower.org, with my colleague David Hazony, which reached millions, and that Newsweek called “a must read;”
•Working with media relations professionals like Lior Weintraub and Omri Ceren, and many others, prompting TIME Magazine to describe TIP as “Israel’s most effective media advocacy organization;”
•Polling and tested messaging with Nathan Klein and Ken Goldstein, supporting partner groups across the pro-Israel community and around the world; strengthening our community’s response to Iran and the nuclear threat, and taking public opinion from supportive of the JCPOA to 60% opposed;
•Intellicopter and strategic tours educating hundreds of bureau chiefs, ambassadors and opinion leaders, who often said, as one Washington Post reporter did, that they’d learned more with TIP in 90 minutes than they had in years.
•TIP staff, first responders to terror attacks, helping journalists access the human experience of Israelis; broadcasting on TIP’s social platform live coverage seen by millions, shared white-labeled for other partners to use;
•Pioneering digital work with powerful pro-Israel content, going from reaching 4700 people a day on TIP’s Facebook page to over 1 billion yearly within 12 months of Gary Rosen joining us, then to over 2 billion a year;
•Recognizing that community is the future of digital communications, launching the Future Media Project in 2014, introducing the group-based, emotion-centric approach to pro-active pro-Israel communications, reaching over 5 billion yearly, 429m video views, all with organic content and community building, and no paid ads;
• Exposing early the dangers of rising anti-Semitism in Europe and especially in the British Labour Party and the rise of Corbynism with TIP Senior Fellow Julie Lenarz;
•Playing a decisive role in passing anti-BDS legislation in 27 states in less than 2 years —implemented in more states, more quickly than any other policy issue ever, including the fight against drunk driving — and the coalition leadership of Jacob Milner;
•Tens of thousands of news articles and TV stories about Israel improved and informed by dedicated relationships of trust between TIP staff and journalists and diplomats with whom they have engaged for so long;
•Ground breaking training for countless Israelis living under fire, policy experts and politicians, so when they meet journalists, American diplomats or the UN Secretary General, or appear on national news programs like Meet The Press, they are prepared to connect with the audience and tell their truth.
Much has been accomplished, yet more remains to be done. The polarized political climate in the United States, both in the wider body politic and inside the Jewish community, is making it increasingly difficult for non-partisan organizations — especially those whose work, like press outreach in today’s public debate, is like infrastructure — necessary but not sexy and often discreet — to enlist passionate, committed supporters willing to set aside differing views in pursuit of common purpose — in our case, strengthening Israel and ensuring the facts and truth are told in the media about the Jewish state.
The need for world-class, pro-active, sophisticated, pro-Israel media relations on the ground in Israel, where the vast majority of news coverage of Israel originates, and in Washington, where the policy debate is shaped, has never been greater.
It is my fervent hope that the pro-Israel community will continue to invest in sophisticated work with the media, which is necessary to empower our community’s ability to protect our values, our place in society, and the security of the Jewish people and the Jewish state in the 21st century. As Shimon Peres once said, “If TIP didn’t exist you’d have to invent it.”
A moment of transition provides TIP an opportunity to decide how it can best address the needs and challenges in the current environment, under the direction of its wonderful Board of Directors and my talented colleagues, TIP Vice President Lior Weintraub and COO Elliott Mendes, to whom I pass the torch of professional leadership.
Although my time at the helm of TIP comes to an end, my devotion to our cause remains unabated. I look forward to working together in the future in whatever capacity possible to strengthen Israel and the Jewish people. But first, a family trip to Israel next month, our four children’s first visit to the land of our heritage, but surely not their last! I hope your summer, too, will be pleasant and meaningful.
Am Yisrael Chai!
With enduring gratitude,
CEO & President
The Israel Project