New Leader Josh Block Gives Makeover to The Israel Project

Brings In-Your-Face Style and Launches New Publication

New Approach: The head of The Israel Project, Josh Block, right, and David Hazony appear at a launch of the group’s new publication, The Tower.
Nathan Guttman
New Approach: The head of The Israel Project, Josh Block, right, and David Hazony appear at a launch of the group’s new publication, The Tower.

By Nathan Guttman

Published April 02, 2013, issue of April 05, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

As the new head of The Israel Project, Josh Block brings an aggressive, in-your-face style of operation to one of the Jewish community’s fastest-growing organizations, even as the group undergoes sweeping changes with his arrival.

It’s an approach that contrasts strikingly with that of his predecessor, TIP founder Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, under whose tenure the organization developed a reputation as Israel’s most effective nongovernmental public relations agency. But that may not be the most important part of the transformation now taking place .

Developed by Mizrahi as a multinational campaign to change perceptions of Israel worldwide, TIP is now withdrawing from the international arena, including countries, such as China and India, whose global influence is surging.

It was in 2002 that Mizrahi established TIP — a private initiative funded by wealthy backers that engaged journalists (and others) with information targeting their working needs. Among other things, TIP helped media people gain access to Israeli decision makers and expert sources, and conducted public opinion polls offering crucial nuggets of information about how people viewed Israel and its neighbors.

Where journalists seemed strongly critical of Israel, TIP wielded its formidable public relations resources to make its case and, it hoped, show them the error of their ways.

As Mizrahi’s successor, Block faces a double challenge. While overseeing massive changes in TIP’s organizational focus and personnel shifts in the group’s leadership, he is also attempting to reshape his own public image. To many, Block seems something like Mizrahi’s temperamental opposite: an aggressive defender of pro-Israel views, even at the price of openly quarreling with journalists, rival organizations and the Obama administration.

At a reception in a fancy Washington hotel March 21, Block celebrated the launch of The Tower, one of TIP’s new projects. An online long-form journalism publication devoted to Middle East and Israel issues, it is, as Block boasted, “Vanity Fair Meets Foreign Affairs.” Block addressed the crowd of journalists and foreign policy wonks gathered around an ice sculpture in the shape of the website’s logo.

The Tower’s first issue features a medley of writers representing a wide variety of viewpoints, a fact that TIP officials point out repeatedly. For Block, the new magazine and the daily website TheTower.org are viewed as a “home for ideas” supporting the group’s mission, which he defined in an email exchange as “to provide facts, and educate and inform the media and policy conversation about Israel and the Middle East.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.