web analytics
August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



SWITCHING SIDES

Reporter Alan Elsner Leaving Pro-Israel Group for ‘Ideologically Better Suited’ J Street

Unlike TIP, J Street is not interested in helping Israel deliver its message with better packaging. J Street has its own idea of what Israel's message should be. That message is that there must be a Palestinian State and any efforts that get in the way of creating that result - and their primary focus for criticism is Israel - is destructive and should be treated accordingly by the U.S.
Former Reuters reporter and former pro-Israel activist Alan Elsner.

Former Reuters reporter and former pro-Israel activist Alan Elsner.
Photo Credit: Facebook

The Israel Project is a bi-partisan pro-Israel messaging organization with close relationships to many people spread across the Israeli political spectrum and with liberal centrist pro-Israel Democrats in the U.S. government.

TIP is perhaps best known for its polling and messaging efforts to improve Israel’s image with the public, and the helicopter rides they offer foreign journalists stationed in Israel, so that the size of the country, especially in comparison to its hostile neighbors, is understood.

In what has been a stable yet rapidly-expanding organization, several changes have recently taken place at TIP that surprised the somewhat inbred pro-Israel world.

First, TIP’s ubiquitous founder and president left – for good this time  – but perhaps far more shocking, the former number two at TIP has joined J Street.  Whereas TIP is focused on helping Israel improve its image throughout the world, many consider J Street to be the source of more harm to Israel’s image than just about any other organization, and certainly more than any other organization which claims to be pro-Israel.

TIP was founded ten years ago by three women, one of whom became the president and remained in that position until this summer.  Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi was a communications and political consulting strategist as well as a former operative with the Democratic National Committee until she launched TIP.  After ten years, TIP grew to an organization with staff of more than 80 and with offices in three different cities – including Jerusalem – and an annual budget of up to $11 million.

The TIP Board came up with a new strategic plan last year, and Laszlo Mizrahi had already decided it was time for her to move on.

The board’s strategic plan was to scale back the enormous worldwide focus – TIP was not only working on pro-Israel messaging in the United States but was also working with Israeli, Russian, Spanish, British, German, Arabic and Chinese press to improve Israel’s image.

One former employee told The Jewish Press that it was hard to justify spending lots of money to improve relations with Russian and Chinese journalists, given that the press is tightly controlled by the government in both of those countries.

The search to find a new TIP president and executive director concluded when former American Israel Public Affairs Committee spokesperson Josh Block agreed to sign on.  Block’s mandate included a more tightly focused agenda – concentrating on the U.S. market where results are more likely and more quantifiable.  He also took the helm when the nature of the media messaging was shifting, with a stronger emphasis on digital engagement – twitter, Facebook and other social media.  The nature of these changes – not in message but in delivery – meant TIP was going to become a leaner machine.

Alan Elsner, the former number two at TIP,  saw the writing on the wall and left the organization earlier this fall.  Elsner had been a journalist with Reuters for more than 30 years, but retired from that job two years ago.  In a move that surprised some, Elsner joined TIP and was its senior communications director during his two year stint.

Elsner told The Jewish Press that he first met Laszlo Mizrahi while he was Reuters’ political correspondent.  At that time Laszlo Mizrahi was what Elsner called a DNC “operative,” and she had been a source for him.  Over the years the two maintained a friendship, and after Elsner left Reuters, Laszlo Mizrahi asked him to join TIP.

Taking a position at a hasbara organization is something few journalists would deign to do, especially one coming from an organization like Reuters.  But while some folks expressed surprise when Elsner went to TIP, he said that because he was “retired” from journalism, he was finally able to do what he really wanted.  And Israel has always been important to Elsner.

Alan Elsner grew up in England, but his parents eventually moved to Israel.  Elsner lived in Israel for eight years, and served in the Israel Defense Forces from 1981-82.  His sister and brother-in-law still live there, in the south, near Beer Sheva, as do their four sons.  Elsner is a child of a Holocaust survivor, and one of the books he wrote is about his father’s experience during World War II, “Guarded by Angels.”

Laszlo Mizrahi – who told The Jewish Press that she had no comment for this article – developed the TIP style of not criticizing either journalists or Israeli government officials for doing the wrong thing, but instead to offer material and resources to the former and information and polling data to the latter, to help achieve the desired results – a more positive image for Israel.  TIP does not create Israel’s message. Instead, TIP helps to package Israel’s message – either through changes in word choice, context or emphasis – so that the global audience is less likely to have its feathers ruffled – or its prejudices kick in.

Elsner, on the other hand, says he now understands that his personal style and ideology is better suited to J Street.

Echoing a statement released by J Street when Elsner accepted the new position as its senior communications director this week, he told The Jewish Press, “accentuating positive messages about Israel, while it can be useful, ultimately is not going to get Israel to where it needs to go.”

Unlike TIP, J Street is not interested in helping Israel deliver its message with better packaging. J Street has its own idea of what Israel’s message should be, and is perfectly happy delivering its own message to rather than for Israel.  That message is that there must be a Palestinian State and any efforts that get in the way of creating that result – and their primary focus for criticism is Israel – is destructive and should be treated accordingly by the U.S. administration.

So what should Israel be doing? According to Elsner, “Israel should find a way to get back to the peace process.”  He said, “continuing to build settlements, just eating up land where the Palestinian State is going to be established” takes everyone further away from a solution.

When asked what message he has for Israel, Elsner’s response was not surprising.  He said, “the only way to safeguard Israel as a democratic, Jewish state is to reach a peace agreement with the ‘Palestinians’ so that they have their own state, that has to be the priority.”

Elsner continued, “Israel cannot take positions that make it [the 'Two State Solution'] more difficult, and Israeli politicians are making short term choices for political reasons, ones that always outweigh the long term good of the nation.”

Elsner criticized the recent announcement approving a stage in the process of construction in the area known as E-1 by Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Some former colleagues described Elsner as a “Bibi hater.”

“There should be room in the discussion for those who want to pursue a real peace process and who value dialogue above settlements,” is the way J Street, and also Elsner – now publicly – frame the issue.

When asked whether he thought it was acceptable for a future Palestinian State to forbid Jews from living there, Elsner’s response echoed what the J Street crowd calls “Jewish out of bounds talk,” i.e. they claim it is not acceptable to speak harshly about the “settlements.”  In this instance, when it is suggested that those who push the Two State Solution are actually promoting a Judenrein state, the suggestion is balked at, turned away from, but ultimately never addressed head on.

In an effort to draw out Elsner on this concept, The Jewish Press reminded him of the tragic story of Koby Mandell, the 13 year old Jewish American-Israeli boy who, with his friend Yosef Ishran, was bludgeoned to death in 2001 by Arab Palestinians in the wadi outside of his home in Tekoa, in the Judean desert.

The Mandell family moved to Tekoa in the wake of the Oslo Accords.  They believed peace was truly going to break out between Jews and Arabs, and when they moved to Tekoa, according to Koby’s father, Rabbi Seth Mandell, they really did not know whether the land would be part of Israel or of a Palestinian State, and they didn’t think it mattered.

Elsner’s response – while perhaps not intentionally harsh, and certainly not intentionally ironic – was that lots of blood has been spilled on both sides, and that there was an excessive level of naivete many years ago that no longer is as prevalent.

Since announcing his new position, Elsner said he has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback, especially from his friends and relatives in Israel.

How he lasted two years in senior leadership at The Israel Project is the real mystery.

 

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

11 Responses to “Reporter Alan Elsner Leaving Pro-Israel Group for ‘Ideologically Better Suited’ J Street”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Jewish Comedienne Joan Rivers gives an impromptu speech on why Hamas should be wiped out.
Joan Rivers in Critical Condition
Latest News Stories
Jewish Comedienne Joan Rivers gives an impromptu speech on why Hamas should be wiped out.

We wish a speedy recovery to Joan Rivers, the straight-shooting Jewish comedienne whose exact analysis of the war was, “Hamas started it.”

An IDF soldier who was critically injured last week by a rocket that hit Ashdod died from his wounds today. He is Israel’s 71st casualty in the war. Sergeant Natanel Maman, 21, from Gan Yavne, an Ordnance Corps soldier, was critically injured by a rocket that hit Ashdod last Friday. He was promoted posthumously from […]

Imam speaks against ISIS to a  Michigan"crowd" of approximately 50 people.

More than 200,000 Muslims live in Michigan. Fifty of them showed up for a protest against ISIS.

Eulogy at funeral fro Lakewood, New Jersey Yeshiva student Aaron Sofer.

Sofer, who may have died from dehydration after falling in a ravine while hiking, is being buried in Beit Shemesh.

The Boycott Israel movement, so far, is more bark than bite.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

Netanyahu gets support from Congressmen on House Armed Services Committee

Some Chareidi entertainers thrilled the crowd on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda Street with some Jewish entertainment.    

Hamas’ supreme leader Khaled Mashaal dashed any hopes of long-term peace with Israel in a speech in Qatar on Thursday in which he shot from the hip at Israel and also at his terrorist organization’s new partner, the rival Fatah movement headed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. His lengthy speech in Qatar, which has […]

Many of the Syrian soldiers were not armed when ISIS captured and then slaughtered them.

Police are still working to confirm the identity of a body that was found by searchers hunting for missing yeshiva student Aharon Sofer.

Iconic pro-Israel comedian Joan Rivers is in critical condition following a throat procedure.

UN troops fled their posts along the Syrian-Israel border after they decided it was too dangerous for them to do their job.

In the wake of a 12th Israel-Gaza cease-fire, Britain’s Jews and Muslims have issued a joint call for peace.

The investigation shed light on the movements of the drug traffickers operating under Hezbollah’s direction in Lebanon and Israel.

Drug dealers suspected of aiding Hezbollah make inroads into Israel; smuggling attempts also included Jordan, Syria

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Baby wearing a Hamas head band attends a Hamas "victory" rally in central Gaza City, on August 27, 2014, following the latest cease-fire.

Gazans overwhelmingly support rocket attacks against Israel, but they prefer other methods of attack even more.

William Schabas, named to chair the UNHRC Commission on Gaza, deep  its his repeated denunciations of Israeli leaders as war criminals.

Simon Wiesenthal Center called on US to denounce the rigged UNHRC Commission on Gaza.

Neither side achieved its stated goal: the Gaza blockade will not be lifted and Hamas will not be disarmed.

Israelis in Gaza border communities need to get out; who will help them?

The US has been sidelined in the Middle East. Egypt, the UAE and the Saudis are the new police force.

Rockets launched at Jerusalem were fired from Gazan schools compound.

Al Qaeda affiliate released an American journalist on Sunday, Aug. 24.

Whether Hamas IS equivalent to ISIS or Hamas simply hearts ISIS remains unclear.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/reporter-alan-elsner-leaving-pro-israel-group-for-ideologicallyy-better-suited-j-street/2012/12/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: