Gaza Crisis Prompts Robo-Call Campaign

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

James Besser in Washington

So you though those annoying robo-calls were over and done with, now that the long political campaign season is over?

Guess again.

This week The Israel Project – which, like every other major Jewish group is facing a financial crunch as big donors get slammed by the sinking economy and whose expenses are soaring as it reacts to the new fighting in Gaza – began using automated calls to selected Jewish lists to generate donations.

This reporter uncovered that fact through advanced investigative reporting techniques that consisted mostly of picking up the phone and listening to TIP founder and president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi’s recorded pitch.

Asked about the new fundraising drive, Mizrahi seemed miffed that a reporter was on the receiving end – the group focuses heavily on providing resources to reporters around the world, not hitting them up for donations – but was unapologetic about the idea of using automated calls.

“I don’t have time to be dialing for dollars when people are dying,” she said. “So we’re borrowing something from politics, and we’re going to see if it works.”

TIP, she pointed out, has been providing information and contacts to thousands of journalists since the Gaza crisis erupted last week – not a cheap proposition.

If the fundraising experiment works. look for other Jewish groups – hurting for money and worried about another grim year in the economy – to follow TIP’s example.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.