Advocates for Israel Jewish News March 27 2015 by Jenni Frazer
One of Israel’s most persuasive advocates, Dr Einat Wilf, told the Jewish News this week that she would be in favour of “a mechanism allowing diaspora Jews more of a voice” in the future of Israel.
Dr Wilf, who gave two presentations at the We Believe conference, one on 21st century Zionism and one on Israel as a Jewish state, was a member of Knesset for the Labour Party until losing her seat two years ago. Now a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute, she travels the world lecturing on Israel’s behalf.
“I wouldn’t go so far as allowing people [in the diaspora] a vote,” she said, “but they should definitely have a voice.” She was responding to a question about the diaspora’s direction in the wake of the Israeli elections, and statements made in Paris earlier in the year by Prime Minister Netanyahu that he was prime minister of the whole Jewish people.
Earlier, in her presentation, Dr Wilf said that the word and the concept of Zionism should be re-embraced, and even suggested that there would come a time when Muslims could call themselves Zionists.
But the American pollster Frank Luntz, in a barnstorming presentation on “defending Israel – words to use, words to lose”, painted a very different picture. Addressing a capacity audience packed with students and young adults, Mr Luntz delicately picked his way through the vocabulary of pro and anti-Israel debates. He warned his audience: “If you get the opening [of your debate or dialogue] right, they’ll listen. If you get your closing comments right, they’ll agree with you.”
But as he demonstrated in a series of eye-opening visual charts, the right words in the right places are not so easy to achieve. As a political consultant for a variety of Republican groups in America, Mr Luntz has had more experience than most in knowing what to say and how it will play. But he implored his audience not to “cut and paste” his remarks onto the internet – “otherwise all that work just goes to the other side.”
Other highlighted presentations were made by the veteran Meretz politician and president of the New Israel Fund, Professor Naomi Chazan, analysing the recent Israeli elections; by the CST’s government and international affairs director Mike Whine, discussing the new anti-Semitism in Europe; and by a group of activists from the North-West Friends of Israel, advising on what grassroots can do.