YNET NEWS–Dr. Alexander Mashkevich, president of the United Israel Appeal’s annual conference of Jewish leaders in Washington, has announced his plan to form a pro-Israel international news network, similar to al-Jazeera and the BBC.
This year’s conference focused on attempts to deal with the de-legitimization campaign against Israel, and was attended by some 200 Jewish community leaders and key philanthropists.An announcement on the creation of the international news network was made at the end of the conference, with the aim of dealing with anti-Israel defamation in the media and influence public opinion.
Mashkevich (Photo right) , who also serves as president of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, said that the network would offer programs in English, French, Arabic and Spanish, focusing on news only. “My intention is not to create a propaganda channel,” he told Ynet, “but simply a channel telling the truth.
“Unfortunately, in the current situation most channels simply don’t tell the truth about Israel,” he explained. “Every day that passes we lose the battle for Israel’s image. I am sure that Goldstone is a decent person, who didn’t want to damage Israel consciously and intentionally, but if everything he gets from the media every day is anti-Israel propaganda, I assume it’s hard to make the right decisions.”
Mashkevich, whose fortune is estimated at some $3.7 billion, plans to recruit other philanthropists and senior businesspeople for the mission. “The international de-legitimization has become a huge risk for Israel,” he adds.
“It’s unthinkable that Israel has no television network like the channels operated by countries such as the United States, Britain and Russia. The creation of such a channel is necessary, and does not require something out of nothing, as there are existing models we can work according to.”
The conference was also attended by outgoing Israeli Ambassador to Britain and newly appointed Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who analyzed the anti-Israeli incitement on international media.
“We deal with creating awareness,” said Prosor. “Today there isn’t one university campus in Britain which I, as an Israeli ambassador, can enter without facing horrible protests. If we don’t fight back – we’ll be in trouble.
“It’s time for us to stop complaining about how bad Israel’s PR is,” added Hoenlein. “It’s not just Israel that’s in danger – but all of us. The entire Jewish people are under attack, and this is about the future of all the Jewish people.
Hoenlein believes the establishment of a news network like al-Jazeera is vital. “People are influenced by it,” he says, revealing that he has already held several meetings in a bid to strike a collaboration with media organizations and Israeli governmental bodies.
Mashkevich lives in Britain and has an Israeli citizenship as well. He is considered one of the most influential Jewish oligarchs in the world, and a “warm Jew” who donates in many fields close to his heart. His parents fled the Nazis and gave him “a proud Jewish education”. His childhood in Kyrgyzstan contributed to shaping his Jewish awareness as well. “In Soviet Russia people would never let me forget I was a Jew, not for one day,” he said.
Mashkevich says, “People tend to think that the American Congress members know the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it’s not true. All their information comes from the media.” “Seventy percent of what the international media reports in terms of the conflict is of anti-Israel nature.