Seattle community and congregational groups are responding to the current crisis in Israel through an Israel Advocacy Consortium.
Last spring the executive directors, chairs and presidents and key volunteers from five organizations met to map out a long-term mission and strategy to accomplish certain goals on behalf of their common Israel advocacy agendas. The initiating organizations were the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s Community Development Department, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and Hadassah. The community leaders have met under the guidance of Don Stark and David Schaeffer, public affairs and public relations experts.
The misson of the consortium to help the members of the Jewish community find and understand accurate information about Israel and give voice to them as individuals, organizations and synagogue members. The group also is working to reach the non-Jewish community and media and enlist their support in generating accurate information and advocating on behalf of Israel.
Every month for the coming year, one of the five organizations will bring a speaker to the whole community to give up-to-date briefings on the military, psychological and political situation and informative background information.
This group will also coordinate to plan celebrations and observances in the community for such days as Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Hazikaron, and Jerusalem Day. Four speakers have already addressed hundreds of people, including two AIPAC professionals and the Israeli Consul-General. The Consortium welcomes requests and suggestions for new locations and hosts of upcoming speakers so that as many people as possible can be reached. Suggestions can be sent to Chuck Broches at the Jewish Federation at 206-441-8479, ext. 220, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A volunteer media watch and response team also is being trained and formed to learn about how the local press get their Middle East news, how headlines and pictures are chosen and what alternative sources of accurate information they might choose. The group plans to monitor patterns of bias, prejudice, stereotypes or misuse of language. They hope to submit regular opinion pieces to local newspapers.
The media watch group’s goal is to build a long-term positive relationship with editorial boards and staffers. If you would like to be part of this effort, contact Sharon Finegold, who is acting as facilitator for the consortium and co-chair of the media response team, at 206-682-1116, ext.5. A training session for those who wish to work on media response team committees will be held Sept. 24 at a place to be announced.
A third part of the Consortium will be a coalition of congregational rabbis and leaders who will share with other congregations schedules of activities which relate to Israel advocacy and Israel advocacy education. Rabbi Benzaquen of Sephardic Bikur Cholim is chairing this part of the Consortium.
Finally, Israeli artists, scientists and performers will be welcomed into the community to share their gifts. They will be able to bring the community’s support back to their Israeli communities after they bring their insights to Seattle.