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

(page 2 of 3)

The idea of launching TIP’s own online publication follows a course set by other interest groups, among them the progressive Center for American Progress and its ThinkProgress blog, a publication that came under harsh attacks from Block before joining TIP, because of the views that some of its writers expressed on Israel.

The Tower Magazine’s editor is David Hazony, a conservative Israeli-American writer (and a Forward columnist). Hazony and Block refer to the publication as “nonprofit journalism,” which, the magazine editor believes, will help explain “the most misunderstood state” that is Israel. The first issue includes an essay arguing that Israel is America’s last ally in the Middle East; alongside it is an article comparing threats to children from violence in the United States with terror in Israel, and a discussion of gay and lesbian issues in Israel and how they differ from the debate in America. “I don’t think I’m advocating any ideology,” Hazony said, arguing that the publication should be read “for its own merits,” regardless of the group behind it.

The new publication is only a small part of a massive facelift at TIP. Mizrachi brought the group to life during the height of the second intifada, when images from the Middle East were plastered daily on the front pages of American newspapers, and Israel’s portrayal was at times that of the aggressor, not the victim.

Since then, TIP has been one of the fastest growing Jewish organizations. In 2011, according to the latest available tax filings, it began raising multi-year pledges and collected more than $19 million. From traditional hasbara — the Hebrew term for viewpoint promotion —focused on educating the press, TIP expanded to a global operation working in Europe, China, India, Latin America and Russia, and hosting an extensive Arabic-language operation. Mizrahi saw the group’s Mandarin and Arabic operations as particularly crucial to the future of pro-Israel advocacy. The group also spent $1 million a year on polling, hiring top political pollsters to examine messaging on Israel and to gauge international public opinion.

Much of this is now gone. TIP board members ultimately rejected Mizrahi’s view of China as a key arena in the battle to influence public opinion on Israel. TIP does still maintain its program in Arabic, which is based in Israel and will soon expand its publications. Funding for this program is provided mainly by one TIP donor, New York businessman Richard Perry. But beyond that board members have stressed the need to “go back to the basics” of the organization’s mission. By the time Block took over, TIP had completed the process of shutting down its other international operations in favor of focusing on the United States.

The leadership overhaul also involved the departure of many of TIP’s senior staff members, including Laura Kam, who was in charge of the group’s global affairs; director of communications Alan Elsner, and research director Meagan Buren. All former employees were required to sign a nondisclosure agreement preventing them from discussing their workplace.


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!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • 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?"
  • 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.