Israeli Diplomat Addresses HR Reception at AIPAC

HR CEO Joe Hyams (left) with Minister for Public Diplomacy at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, Noam Katz

HonestReporting was proud to take part in the 2012 AIPAC Policy Conference, where Mission alumni, subscribers and supporters gathered for a unique briefing.

Our after-hours Dessert Reception was honored by a guest speaker – previously unannounced to those gathered – Mr Noam Katz, Minister for Public Diplomacy at Israel’s Embassy in Washington DC.

The buzz, the sense of occasion, and the political tension rolling through DC Sunday night would have given Minister Katz plenty else to give priority to. But he delivered a frank, engaging message to the HonestReporting reception.

Namely that HonestReporting, and groups like ours, are essential as they are central to our shared responsibility to check falsehood and abuse directed at Israel via the media, and in particular the emergent media tools of the Internet age.

Minister Katz had been busy that very day in his role overseeing President Shimon Peres’s Twitter account, launched just prior to the AIPAC conference and enjoying over 1000 followers as of our briefing on March 4th.

(President Peres is launching his Facebook page, meeting with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg today – March 6th.)

Addressing the audience, Minister Katz said:

When I think about organizations like HonestReporting, there is no doubt that they have the ability to do the work that will expose truth, and the ability to choose how to disseminate it. What government can do is limited. In New Media we are considered less credible than organizations. I say I do public diplomacy – they say I lie for my state. I assure you that I do not.

Joe Hyams, HR’s CEO described HR’s presence at AIPAC as:

an important opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to shared goals when it comes to defending public opinion vis a vis Israel. Media has a direct influence on public opinion, and in that regard we have to work hard to make that reality known, and empower our supporters with the tools to make Israel’s true intentions, ambitions and qualities known.

Just as AIPAC recognizes that the public will not inform and educate itself, HonestReporting recognizes that the media will not police itself to ensure high ethical standards, and our supporters need solid tools and training to navigate social media tools directly. It was a privilege to stand with so many committed supporters ofIsrael, to reconnect with our HonestReporting friends, and to be honored by Minister Katz’s address at this historic gathering in Washington DC.

Minister Katz appealed for Israel’s supporters to become engaged on Israel’s behalf:

But we need more voices. New Media operates via networks and not pyramids, where ideas are shared via communities in cyberspace. We need to create a node, where discourse can be achieved, and we can be a significant force together in that regard. We cannot control the conversation, but we can start it, and reach those with honesty and accuracy who we might never previously have succeeded to engage.