NGO Monitor, Wikipedia Initiative, Jerusalem, Israel
Since its founding in 2002, NGO Monitor has been at the forefront of the effort to fight the delegitimization and demonization of Israel by challenging the international human rights NGOs undermining Israel. The Wikipedia Initiative is a pilot project that began in 2012 with the NGO Monitor team removing false claims and double standards to the Wikipedia entries for NGOs including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International; it also added information to entries for the Goldstone Report on the Gaza Conflict (December 2008–January 2009) and BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), which is the campaign against Israel started in 2005 by Palestinian NGOs. The organization plans to expand its work on Wikipedia and to use Twitter to give those entries greater visibility through social media.
European Leadership Network (ELNET), Germany-Israel Strategic Dialogue, Potsdam, Germany
The European Leadership Network (ELNET) is organizing a Germany-Israel Strategic Dialogue in Potsdam, Germany on January 14–15, 2013, intended to positively impact the countries’ relations. ELNET works to strengthen Israeli and Jewish interests in Europe and encourage a more positive relationship between Europe and Israel as a counter to the turbulent interactions in recent years and the increasing distrust between European and Israeli leaders. The German-Israel Dialogue was organized in cooperation with the German Council on Foreign Relations and the Israeli Institute for National Security Studies and received the official endorsement of Germany’s Ministry of Defense. In addition to the dialogue, ELNET plans to redefine and strengthen Israel-German relations in several other ways, including pro-Israel advocacy and systemic relationship-building with German officials and policymakers, strategic communication with the media, promoting contacts between German and Israeli officials and experts, encouraging German supporters of Israel to develop good relations with pro-Israel political candidates and parties, and more. Founded in 2007, ELNET is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to strengthening relations between Europe and Israel based on common strategic interests and democratic values
Eretz Acheret, Israeli Web Magazine, Israel
Targum Shlishi is supporting Eretz Acheret (A Different Land), a bilingual website that continues the important work of the Israeli print magazine of the same name, established by leading Israeli journalist and thinker Bambi Sheleg and published bimonthly from 2000 to 2012. The web magazine, scheduled to launch in 2014, will publish content that fosters understanding of Israeli society’s many different sectors, including in-depth journalism and critical and philosophical articles. Among the primary concerns Eretz Acheret considers are the lack of leadership in Israeli society, the existential challenges currently facing the country, and the need for a major journalistic platform, free from external interests, that fosters in-depth discourse. The planned webzine responds to a critical need in Israeli society, according to Sheleg. “Research shows that young Jews are less connected to a Jewish collective consciousness than generations before them. Research also shows that the mainstream media, which exacerbates social differences by highlighting extremism within different social sectors, threatens the future of the Jewish people by deterring young Jews from complex engagement with Israel within their identities. Rather than seek out profound explorations of Jewish peoplehood, young Jews are hounded by superficial images of violence, extremism, and excessive discord.”
Bass Museum of Art, UNNATURAL exhibition, Miami Beach, FL
What is real? What is artificial? An exhibition with a majority of Israeli artists explores the concept of nature and challenges the gap between traditional perceptions of “nature” and “culture.” UNNATURAL, an exhibition on view at the Bass Museum of Art (Miami Beach) September 9–November 4, 2012, is curated by Tami Katz-Freiman and is supported in part by Targum Shlishi. “In the contemporary Israeli context it is impossible to disassociate the landscape from its political resonances and from the multiple narratives that surround it. Landscape imagery and representations of nature in contemporary Israeli art today are rarely naive, and certainly not romantic. They are scorched by the fire of conflict and marked by the fervor of internal controversy,” according to Katz-Freiman. A wide range of media is represented in the exhibition including video, photography, sculpture, and installation. Many of the works, created as they are in our hyper-technological age, reflect ironically on artificial environments in which one is not certain what is real and what is not.
Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Iran Corruption and Social Media Project, Washington, D.C.
What is the impact of the economic sanctions on the Iranian people? How widespread is citizen discontent against the Iranian regime? In response to the threat Iran poses to Israel, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) launched the Iran Corruption and Social Media Project, an innovative initiative that will analyze Iranian social media to evaluate the impact of Western economic sanctions on the regime, detect signs of widespread Iranian discontent, and identify and quantify the extent of corruption by the Iranian regime. The project will use military grade social media technology to comb through hundreds of thousands of social media conversations to determine whether the economic sanctions are broadening anger against the regime from a cross section of the population, ranging from middle and upper class to lower working class Iranians. The results will help FDD allies in the government to gauge the impact of the sanctions and counter accusations that sanctions hurt only the average Iranian. An additional objective is to identify areas most vulnerable to further measures. The leading policy institute working on Iran sanctions, FDD is a non-profit, non-partisan policy institute working to defend free nations against their enemies.
Teach for Israel, Pastors’ Seminar, Jerusalem, Israel
Teach for Israel’s Pastors’ Seminar is a promising new initiative that brings together evangelical Christian pastors with Jewish Orthodox leadership for a conference in Bismarck, North Dakota in September 2012, intended to educate pastors about Israel and empower them to pass this knowledge and understanding along to their constituencies. “There are seventy million Evangelical Christians in the United States. Many of them are already amongst Israel’s greatest supporters. A good number of them are involved and influential in American and world politics. How would things be different for Israel if those seventy million Evangelicals as well as the millions more Evangelicals and other Christians worldwide became activated as supporters of the Jewish State?” asks Rabbi Moshe Rothchild, co-director of Teach for Israel and organizer of the Pastors’ Seminar. The seminar will be led by Rabbi Rothchild along with well-known Christian Zionist pastors Dr. Tom Baggett and Shelli Brim-Baggett. Following the seminar, Teach for Israel will work closely with attending pastors to bring Teach for Israel programming to their churches. The ultimate objective of the Pastors’ Seminar and Teach for Israel in general is to work with this large population quickly and effectively, in order to positively change the way the world at large views Israel. Rabbi Rothchild conceived of the Pastors’ Seminar as a way to reach larger numbers of pastors and, through them, their congregants.
Yerushalmim, Alternative Kosher Supervision System, Jerusalem, Israel
This grass-roots effort to establish an alternative and more just method of kosher supervision system in Jerusalem involves different groups coming together to challenge the state rabbinate’s monopoly on kosher certification. Several restaurants are working with the support of the Yerushalmim political party in partnership with Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz and associated social action groups to advocate for a more pluralistic city. Five of those restaurants banded together to take the city’s chief rabbinate to court after being fined for calling themselves kosher without certification. The restaurants were motivated by what they claim are corrupt practices and objectionable management techniques by the rabbinate, such as requiring them to purchase goods only from certain suppliers. The alternative plan includes a community-based, volunteer kosher supervision system for small establishments such as food stands and coffee shops and calls for restaurant owners, kitchen staff, and the supervising volunteers to attend kashrut classes together. Rabbi Leibowitz has stated that he views this initiative not as anti-rabbinate, but as pro-alternative, and he hopes that ultimately, working towards this objective will bring positive change.
Yad Eliezer, Holiday Aid for Families, Israel
Yad Eliezer is Israel’s largest poverty relieve agency. Founded in 1980, it now manages more than twelve thousand volunteers and by maintaining a low overhead is able to direct more than ninety-six percent of the funds directly to families in need. The organization now has nineteen primary economic and social service programs and serves tens of thousands. Yad Eliezer’s mandate is to help families cope with financial difficulties and to empower them to break through the cycle of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency. Targum Shlishi’s support has helped feed Israeli families for several major holidays.