BY RON JAGER—
This week when Israel celebrates its 64th Independence Day, all of us can take a step back and view Israel from a different perspective than is usually depicted daily by the global media and internet. Can you imagine hundreds of millions of viewers watching and acquiring a sympathetic portrayal of Israel that has nothing to do with war, terror, and the never-ending conflicts of the Middle East? Imagine Israel being depicted as a global center of innovation, academic excellence, heading the global efforts towards renewable energy and water preservation. Learning that no country in the history of the world has ever contributed more to humankind and accomplished more for it’s own people in so brief a period of time as Israel has done. Whether it be the fact that Israel exports more life-saving medical technology per capita than any other nation in the world or turning the vast arid wastelands of Africa into blooming fields through the introduction of Israeli produced slow-drip irrigation technologies, there is an organization that exists for this purpose alone, they call themselves; Israel Up Close (http://www.israelupclose.org) , and they are very serious about getting the good word about Israel out there. American Jews constitute a mere 2% of the U.S. population, and are even a smaller minority in Europe. Israel Up Close does not direct its activities to Jews exclusively, but reaches out to the vast majority of people of the world, who are not Jewish. Many of the messages and stories that are produced speak about ideas and experiences that appeal to large groups of people in the Western World perceiving Israel in a whole new perspective and understanding.
Reaching out to the world attempting to close the enormous gap between the complex realities here in Israel and the biased and false narrative that is so commonly portrayed and with exceeding effectiveness unfortunately is no easy job. Many will claim that Israel is failing on the public relations battleground leading to an increasing anti-Israel sentiment nurturing cultural, academic and commercial boycotts. How better to counter this sentiment than by broadcasting a pure unadulterated positive message about Israel. The idea is not to change minds but to open minds to the real Israel by having produced over 120 filmed video features that have been picked up by CNN, PBS, CBN, Eurovision and hundreds of other national and local television and internet outlets that have broadcasted to hundreds of millions of their viewers. As we all know its no big deal to preach to the choir, but Israel Up Close goes way beyond the choir by providing interesting and professionally produced filmed video narratives to the four corners of the world that usually have never ever heard a good word about Israel. Producing positive, inspirational current events and human interest stories is what Israel Up Close is all about.
Harvey Karp, the legendary founder of Israel Up Close, know what it means to overcome uphill battles. As a street wise kid from the streets of Jersey City in the 1940’s, with 40 bucks in his pocket and a lot of grit, he hitched a ride to California allured by the attraction of Hollywood. From modest beginnings as a clerk, Harvey worked his way up becoming a stockbroker, developing a system for commodities trading and eventually establishing his own firm. After visiting Israel in 2003, Harvey decided that he wanted to inform people outside of Israel to see the real Israel and not just what the headlines depicted.
In Showing different perspectives about Israel, relating on a human level allowing people from all over the world who have never ever been to Israel to easily connect. As Harvey reminisces; “I wanted to show that Israel was about life and about human experiences”. His intention in creating Israel Up Close was to reflect human relationships within Israel and show the human side of life in Israel – the side beyond the media images of war, terrorism and political unrest. Many of the human interest stories were quite compelling empowering viewers to respond with a strong emotional connection to Israel. Many of the video productions dealt with technological innovations that have a direct impact on the quality of life of many of the viewers throughout the world, by identifying, researching, and reporting on how Israeli innovations improve the daily lives of people throughout the world. By enabling the viewers to relate to the human side of Israel and the people of Israel who made all these innovations possible, Israel Up Close has made major strides in bridging the gap between the reality and the false narrative conveyed, evoking images of Israel that strengthens supporting and identifying with the State of Israel.
Israel Up Close’s mission is so important that I would classify their effort as a moral obligation. Improving Israel’s image is no simple task, it’s a deep problem with deep roots. What Israel Up Close does is share important facts and news about Israel and her interaction with the world sharing many of Israel’s contributions to humanity. Support Israel Up Close as Israel celebrates her 64th Independence Day as they reach out to the hundreds of millions of viewers with powerful statements and pictures to promotes Israel’s many gifts to the world.
The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer. Prior to retiring in 2005, served as the Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psycho education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today Ron is a strategic advisor to the Shomron Liaison Office. To contact: email@example.com