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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘E-1’

BDS Tries to Keep Israel’s SodaStream Out of Super Bowl

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

As cheerleaders shake their pom poms, top-dollar players hone their victory dances, and marketers prepare to rake in the dough raised through advertising and sales, Super Bowl XLVII will not just showcase a rivalry between this year’s best winningest football teams, but stands to highlight a burgeoning campaign against Israeli life in the biblical heartland.

SodaStream, an Israeli maker of home soda machines, aims to place its first advertisements in the US during the upcoming Super Bowl, according to an article by the Associated Press.  Aiming to make it big in the United States, SodaStream – the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of home beverage coronation systems – seems to be a natural choice for Americans who want easy convenience, lower costs, and an effortless way to take part in protecting the environment by reducing the number of plastic bottles produced to hold their drinks.  The company is willing to stake a lot of money on that possibility – $3.5 million, the amount it takes to purchase just 30 seconds of advertising time during the Super Bowl.

And while simple consumerism might assure SodaStream a steady stream of sales, pro-Palestinian activists are working to ensure that SodaStream fizzles out.

Soda Stream is produced in Mishor Adumim, according to the AP, an industrial zone adjacent to Maale Adumim, a Jewish community in the Judean desert which has gained notoriety recently for its proximity to Israel’s latest building project, E-1.

“The new SodaStream publicity blitz has given the US boycott, divestment, sanctions movement a marvelous opportunity to bring our campaigns targeting settlement products to a new, unprecedented level of visibility and success,” said Anna Baltzer, an organizer of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in the AP report.

Though Israeli products enjoy success in the US and Europe, the massive international campaign encouraging governments, companies, and private citizens to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel has enjoyed limited success, winning an EU case stopping products made in Judea and Samaria from enjoying the same duty free status as products made in other parts of Israel, and convincing the United Kingdom to ban a SodaStream TV ad on the pretense that it disparaged other soda manufacturers.

For his part, SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum says he’s “got to laugh” thinking he’s a target of pro-Palestinian activists, telling the AP that his company provides jobs and economic benefits to many Palestinians workers.

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

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

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.

 

The History of E-1

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

The world is up in arms, as it so loves to be. What is it about now?

No, no – not Syria and the violence there. Not Afghanistan; certainly not Iran. They aren’t condemning Turkish television fining the Simpsons for mocking God; or a social club at Harvard University saying Jews need not apply. No, it isn’t about Hungary cataloging Jews as they would cattle and certainly nothing about Iranian warships sailing towards Sudan.

It’s all about a mountain that sits between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem. Even left-wing papers in Israel mistakenly write that Israel is threatening to “bisect” the West Bank and the news is filled with country after country condemning Israel for damaging chances for peace. Chances for peace? We were at war two weeks ago and little has changed. There are currently NO chances for peace on the table. In fact, there is no table.

No, no, no – what we have is a mountain – not a very tall one, smaller even than the ones next to it on three sides.

It is barren, but for a road that snakes its way up to a midpoint where a large police station has been built – barren, but for that building. No one lives there – no one has.

The land was once part of the Ottoman Empire – no village, no homes, no dwellings. Sheep and goats sometimes graze on the lower areas of the hills, but that’s about it. When the Ottoman’s made way for the British, it was under their rule, and still nothing but the camels and the sheep and the goats and, perhaps, an occasional ground hog.

In the 1920s, England cut off 2/3 of the land that was called Palestine and gave it to the Hashemites – and thus Jordan was born. The remaining 1/3 was ruled by the British until 1947, including that land that today we call E1. In 1948, the Arabs chose war over peace, death over life. They attacked and lost – but they (specifically Jordan) got E1 – the barren land between Jerusalem’s eastern border and the west bank of the Jordan River.

And then, in 1967, it was clear that Egypt and Syria were preparing for war – Israel launched a pre-emptive strike and sent a message to the Jordanians. We have no quarrel with you; stay out of the fighting. We will not attack you. The Jordanians sent back their message in two ways – in words or action, the message was the same – we fight with our brothers…and so they did. They attacked – as they had in 1948 and the result was the same – they lost.

This time, E1 came into our hands. State-owned under the Turks; state-owned under the Jordanians, and now state-owned under Israel. Never the home of Palestinians; no villages there, no buildings but for the one we built a few years ago…and the ones we will now build.

The history of E1 is very simple. It is but a mountain that lies between Maale Adumim and Jerusalem. Arabs regularly travel on the highway between Maale Adumim and the Dead Sea – the highway remains. There is no bisecting, no blocking, no break in the passage.

It is a mountain, soon to be green and developed. That is the history of E1, except for one huge point that the world forgets. Before the Jordanians, before the British, before the Ottomans, before the Romans…the land was, as it is today – ours. It was the ancient land of Israel; it is the modern land of Israel.

As for the countries of the world who say Israel threatens the peace – where were you two weeks ago when I ran with my children to our bomb shelter? Why did my son have to leave his wife to protect Israel’s south from a thousand rockets?

It is too late now to tell us of peace – speak to Hamas first. You support a Palestinian state? Clearly you do – but it is Israel that must live with it and so we shall – if we have to. We will build and the world will scream. But we have learned that the world screams easily for that which is so minor and ignores that which really matters. Dozens died today in Syria as they did yesterday and as they will tomorrow – but yes, certainly, let’s discuss a barren hill across from my back yard.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/the-history-of-e-1/2012/12/04/

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