PUBLIC DIPLOMACY has become a must in international Jewish organizations that were originally founded for purposes of social welfare, and tended in their early years to steer clear of other issues. Women’s organizations, in particular, devoted their efforts to projects related to women and children in the Land of Israel. But over the years they expanded their scope to include campaigns for equal rights for women, pre-nup agreements that would not only deal with joint property and its disposal in case of divorce, but also with the pre-nuptial agreement, ensuring that the husband would give the wife a Jewish bill of divorce in the event the marriage failed.
Women’s organizations have also come out against sexual abuse. More recently, women’s organizations have established empowerment programs to train members for political activity, business management, et al. Recently, they have joined forces to protest insufficient action by the government to prevent domestic violence and the murder of women by their spouses or partners. Rising antisemitism and attempts to delegitimize Israel have caused some women’s organizations to include public diplomacy on their list of activities. There are some excellent spokeswomen for Israel throughout the Jewish world and even among non-Jewish women, such as former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and Christian Zionist leader Laurie Cardoza Moore.
This week, people attending WIZO’s Tel Aviv-based Meeting of Representatives (MOR) along with delegates from nearly 30 countries, will get to hear at least three different presentations related to public diplomacy.
One will be from Rolene Marks, who made aliyah from South Africa and currently resides in Modi’in. Marks is a World WIZO executive member for public diplomacy. Professionally, Marks is a freelance journalist and broadcaster and appears on international radio and television and has been published in numerous global publications.
She can be heard daily on Chai FM, a Johannesburg-based radio station, and has been invited to speak to international audiences in Brazil, Germany, Australia, South Africa, Israel and elsewhere.
In 2007, Marks participated in the Israel Foreign Ministry’s Young Jewish Diplomats Leadership course.
ANOTHER EXPERT in public diplomacy is Rabbi Aryeh Lightstone, the senior adviser to US Ambassador David Friedman. Prior to joining the State Department, Lightstone worked as an educator, management professional, entrepreneur and issue advocate. A native of Denver, Colorado, he completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Yeshiva University, where he excelled in finance, management, biblical studies and political science, with an emphasis on the Middle East. He has served at the management and executive level for both not-for-profit and for-profit enterprises, and was instrumental in the creation and mission implementation of several prominent advocacy organizations, focused on US-Israel relations and national security.
Arguably the best known of the speakers who have expertise in public diplomacy is former Israel ambassador to the US Dr. Michael Oren, who is currently deputy minister for public diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office. Oren, who is a Kulanu MK, will not stand for reelection, but will continue in future capacities to advocate for Israel. He is widely respected in the United States where he was named by Politico as one of the 50 most influential thinkers in America; by The Forward as one of the five most influential Jews in America; and on the home front, by The Jerusalem Post as one of the 10 most influential Jews worldwide.
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