Joel Lion: Israel’s media man

One on one with the Israel Consul for Media Affairs and Spokesman in the Tri-State Area


David F. Nesenoff: So how is Israel doing?

Joel Lion: Baruch Hashem. From an economic point of view we are doing quite well. We achieved membership in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.) If you try to think that 62 years ago the State of Israel was a third world state with refugee camps, with programs for food and water there. And now from the first of January we became a member of one of the 33 most developed countries in the world. Ben Gurion once said that the one who does not believe in miracles is not a realist in Israel. So I think this proves Ben Gurion true. Right now Israel is exporting flowers to Holland, beer to Germany, and vodka to Poland. So that’s how the State of Israel is doing. There is no state in the world with such a number of companies that trade in the NASDAQ in New York. It’s Baruch Hashem.

DFN: You’re involved in public relations, publicity, hasbara, and a lot of times people say that Israel is brilliant in so many things but when it comes to putting forth its message of how great they are, everybody’s kvetching about a lack of hasbara.

JL: It’s always easy to criticize and say how bad you are than to say how good you are. Look how many good articles are about Israel in all the newspapers every day. Anyone who wishes to know about Israel can do it. Today it’s not only to watch TV or radio. There is huge media consumption. People are looking at their iPads and Blackberries. The news cycle is so quick and so different than it was 10 years ago. You don’t need to watch World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer in order to know what’s happening in the world today. You don’t need Brian Williams to tell you about the Middle East or Ann Curry or Katie Couric to tell you about Egypt. Everyone knows it when it happens. Look how many people were searching for the story about the 1500 year old church that was discovered in Israel. Even our biggest opponents know that Israel is number one in combating cancer and so forth. But you can always look at the Monty Python quote, “Look at the bright side of life.”

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