CRC’s 5th annual Israel Today offers vibrant ideas and bold perspectives from three experts under 40

by | Nov 6, 2015 | Featured

All events are free, open to the community and held at the Reba and Sam Sandler Family Campus in Virginia Beach

The Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater is joining with community partners, including all area synagogues and Jewish agencies, along with local chapters of Jewish organizations and Tidewater Israel advocates, to offer an amazing line-up of visiting experts for their fifth annual Israel Today series.

With an eye towards the impact of young global leaders in their fields, the visiting experts who are all under the age of 40, are sure to leave the Tidewater community better educated and more energized and engaged in the conversation surrounding Israel.

CRC’s fifth annual series is changing its format from lecture presentation to ‘talk show’ style. Each event will have an ‘anchor’ and will start with an interview on stage (think Today Show with comfortable chairs and a coffee table) conducted by a local Tidewater Jewish ‘celebrity’ with the first event ‘anchored’ by Danny Rubin of Rubin Communications. Following the discussion, as in past years, attendees will be able to get their questions answered directly, by the visiting expert. The CRC will announce the other two anchors as the events get closer—each will bring their own style and personality to the stage, and are sure to add to the Israel Today conversation.

Beyond the Start-up Nation
November 18, 7:30 pm
Josh Kram, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Does building a strong commercial relationship between the U.S. and Israel really matter? Does Israel’s reputation as the breeding ground for innovation and entrepreneurial success impact their relationships in the region? “Yes,” says the first Israel Today visiting expert, Josh Kram.

The director of the Middle East Commercial Center for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the largest business organization in the world), the Chamber’s director for Turkey and Middle East Affairs and the Chamber’s director of U.S.-Israel Business Initiative, Kram spends his days working to move forward the U.S. business interests in that region.

While in Tidewater, Kram will focus on the Israel piece of his work, offering his perspective on the impact and potential impact of the Israel Business Initiative office. Headquartered at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C., Kram meets regularly with senior Israeli government officials as well as top U.S. officials who cover Israel and the broader Middle East including members of Congress, administration officials, senior representatives in the departments of commerce, energy, state, and defense, and members of the Embassy of Israel and Israeli consulates throughout the United States.

“As American and Israeli companies work together to invent, develop and bring to market cutting-edge ideas and products, the relationship serves as a growth engine for both of our economies—creating jobs and new products with the potential to transform industries,” Kram says.

Though he says, this is “not unique to Israel. The U.S. has similar overarching strategic economic dialogue partners like China, India, Mexico, and Turkey, and they have proven to be important tools to forging closer economic bonds.”

Prior to his work with the U.S. Chamber, Kram was the Government Affairs representative for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s largest Jewish humanitarian assistance organization, and one of the UJFT’s recipient agencies. In Washington, D.C. Kram helped expand JDC’s existing governmental outreach by raising the organization’s profile and deepening relationships with public officials.

Before joining the JDC, Kram worked with global advocacy organizations, political candidates, think tanks, Jewish communal organizations, and founded a Washington-based consulting firm. His experience includes working with the Council on Foreign Relations and its’ Senior Middle East Fellow Dan Senor where the extensive research Kram conducted, led to collaboration and acknowledgement in Senor and Saul Singer’s New York Times Bestseller, Startup Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. Kram also served as national director of Jewish Outreach and foreign policy advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential Campaign just after his work with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

“While U.S.-Israel politics and security are among the most closely watched topics in Washington and around the world, the focus doesn’t extend as frequently to the economic and commercial relationship between our two countries,” says Kram. “And this is an aspect of our alliance that should not only be celebrated but should increasingly be a priority.”

The community can be assured that after hearing Kram they will have a better perspective on the history and the future of the economic relations between Israel and the United States. and the impact it could have in the Middle East.

The Israel Apartheid Lie
March 2, 2016, 7:30 pm
Olga Meshoe, co-founder DEISI
“We know what Apartheid was because we still suffer from the scars of it and my parents were directly impacted,” says Olga Meshoe, a Christian native of South Africa, an attorney, a consultant focused on broad-based black economic empowerment, and co-founder of DEISI—Defend Embrace Invest Support Israel.

“How in the world, seeing what we see, knowing what we know and being educated as to the truth, can we say Israel is an apartheid state?”

According to an article by a Jewish South African online blogger (Howard Feldman) posted by The Times of Israel, Meshoe is full of “dynamism, eloquence, energy and power.” Feldman’s article, “Israel’s Warrior,” describes Meshoe, as “…super smart, an attorney, having recently ended a stint with one of the country’s leading law firms in the Banking and Finance division. She is deeply passionate about, well everything, including transformation and is a fervent Zionist (and she is a serious coffee drinker). She is not beyond criticism of Israel when she feels she needs to be, but has little tolerance for the hypocrisy so evident around her.”

Meshoe is very adamant about what South Africa could learn from Israel in regards to its technological and agricultural achievements and strongly believes that real transformation in South Africa can come about through working with Israel. To quote Feldman again,” Meshoe is someone who gave hope to the South African Jewish community when they needed it most (during the Israeli Gaza conflict in 2014). A true friend and ally is someone who is there for you in your darkest hour, and Olga is that friend to the global Jewish Community and especially to the Jewish State of Israel.”

Meshoe also is a role model for women, old and young, in South Africa. She is a director and trustee of numerous companies and trusts focused on community work, youth development and empowerment of young people as advocates for truth. She is also the leader of Vessels of Honour, a youth arts organization that is aimed at giving young people of South Africa who are gifted in the areas of music, drama and dance a platform to showcase their talents and opportunities be trained and mentored.

Meshoe’s support for Israel isn’t new as she has a world renowned mentor in that field. Her father is Reverend Kenneth Meshoe of the ACDP (African Christian Democratic Party), a South African political party that holds three seats in Parliament. Rev. Meshoe and his daughter co-founded, DEISI (pronounced daisy, as in “pushing up the…”).

This incredible young adult is currently traveling the globe, using her voice to empower others to speak out against the claims on university campuses of Israel as an apartheid state.

The roots of media bias against Israel
May 11, 2016, 7:30 pm
Matti Friedman, former Associated Press journalist and editor

“Like many Jews who grew up in the 20th century in friendly Western cities, I dismissed such ideas as the feverish memories of my grandparents… I was foolish to have done so.”

In this quote from Matti Friedman’s article in Tablet Magazine, he is referring to his grandparents’ experiences with anti-Semitism. Today, anti-Semitism is more subtle and more difficult to spot. It wasn’t until Friedman reported on the conflict in Gaza during the summer of 2014 that he understood the reality of the impact the media can have on the perception of Israelis and the impression the media leaves on citizens around the globe.

Friedman saw firsthand, from the frontlines, that the conflict was not properly being reported in the media. The media had an agenda, with a story to tell before there was news to report. That summer of 2014 was the straw the broke the camel’s back, but it wasn’t the first or last time Friedman witnessed exaggerated journalism regarding Israel. During his tenure, Friedman experienced ongoing omissions and inflations of “the Israel story.” He discovered that, “the AP (Associated Press) had more staffers covering the “Israel story” than in China, or India, or all 50-odd countries in sub-Saharan Africa combined.”

He now dedicates himself to exposing the anti-Israel media bias he saw as a former member of the Associated Press. Learn the truth behind the media coverage of Israel during Freidman’s visit to Tidewater. It will likely change the way you look at news coverage forever.

For more information and to RSVP for each event, visit, email or call 965-6107.

by Gary Grune