The Oxford English Dictionary defines diplomacy as: the profession, activity or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country’s representatives abroad.
Wherever, whenever, and however he can, Neil Lazarus epitomizes the definition. Lazarus’ goal is to have others join him in effectively and proactively putting Israel in a positive light and he offers a variety of methods to teach people how to do that.
Lazarus is coming to the Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community as the second speaker in the popular Israel Today Forum. The Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and a number of partners have arranged for Lazarus to speak to high school and college students at a private, free (RSVP required to JJohnson@ujft.org) dinner at 5:30 pm. The community is invited to a free discussion with Lazarus at 7 pm.
This marks the second year Lazarus has been a featured speaker in the CRC’s Israel Today Forum. Last year, approximately 500 students and community members learned a variety of advocacy methods; many felt they came away from these discussions better able to relay a positive message about Israel and had the tools to garner agreement with those having opposing views.
“We are bringing Neil back for several reasons,” says Robin Mancoll, CRC director. “His messages on diplomacy and how to advocate for Israel are important for our community to hear, he is incredibly wellinformed, and the community is hungry to hear what he has to say.
“So even if you already feel like you’re the best advocate you can be for Israel, you’ll learn something new from Neil, and you’ll laugh, too—not something that often happens when you speak about Israel,” says Mancoll. “Israel needs all of the help she can get these days and Neil will help us with wording to do that.”
Considered an expert in the fields of Middle East politics, public diplomacy and effective communication training, Lazarus is adept at getting his message out through any and all available mediums. He was an advisor on an Israeli reality TV show, provides commentary for public affairs TV and radio programs, posts regularly on Facebook, Twitter and on his own website—awesomeseminars.com. Lazarus contributes opinion pieces to newspapers, is a guest blogger on multiple sites, hosts free webinars teaching digital diplomacy, and recently launched his own Neil Lazarus app on the iTunes and Android stores.
Additionally, he has clients that include Israeli Ministry of Tourism, Harvard Extension Courses in Israel and Birthright Israel, and travels frequently to communities large and small, speaking to an estimated 30,000 people a year.
In addition to speaking about diplomacy during his Israel Today appearances, Lazarus will update the community on challenges currently confronting Israel; will assist in deciphering Israel’s portrayal in the media, and he will talk about the power of the news.
“We saw in this last Operation how Israel has become much more savvy on the internet and in social media,” Lazarus says. “I think we did a much better job. Right now, though, the war in Gaza has become more challenging for Israel—Hamas has gotten stronger, and Syria’s collapse has meant more Syrian weapons are falling into the hands of terrorists. It is important that we get even more support for Israel internationally, and that we learn how to get Israel’s message across.”
CRC member Mark Solberg heard Lazarus speak at last year’s forum. Solberg is passionate in his support for Israel and is a strong proponent for people to learn as much as they can in order to be good advocates.
“…What would you say if your son or daughter came home from college and told you, “Guess what I learned this semester? Israel doesn’t have a right to exist,” Solberg says. “If you want to be able to advocate effectively on Israel’s behalf in situations like these, you have to educate yourself. You have to learn a little history. You have to learn a little current affairs. How are you going to do that? Where are you going to start?”
A good place, says Solberg, is at the Israel Today Forum on Feb. 13.
To RSVP for the student dinner or the Neil Lazarus’ community appearance, call 757- 321-2323, email email@example.com. For more information about the Israel Today Forum, other CRC events, or to find advocacy resources, visit www.jewishva.org/CRC.