Micah Lakin Avni
Turning Trauma into Triumph: New Narratives for a New Israel
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How will we combat Israel’s delegitimization? In Concert

Introducing a bold partnership aimed at improving the country’s image and standing in world public opinion
Demonstrators protesting outside the Spanish government delegation in Barcelona, October 20, 2015. (Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Demonstrators protesting outside the Spanish government delegation in Barcelona, October 20, 2015. (Albert Llop/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

This year we celebrated Israel’s 70th birthday, and yet we still face the strategic threat of annihilation. My children are the same age my parents were when the State was founded. Three generations later and we are still under attack; fighting to survive.

We face an existential threat from Iran, which seeks nuclear capability, and whose leaders openly state that they would use this capability to destroy Israel. We face this threat from radical Islamic groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda and ISIS who openly call for the destruction of Israel through the use of any and all means. And we also face a growing, long-term threat of delegitimization.

Hundreds of organizations and millions of people around the world – in politics, media, academia, diplomatic corridors, in so-called ‘human rights’ organizations, in the arts and on campuses – spend millions of dollars and millions of person-hours to systematically undermine, marginalize and delegitimize the State of Israel.

Delegitimization is not a mere tactic of our enemies, it is their intended outcome: to erode the willingness of nations to acknowledge the State of Israel’s right to sovereignty over its population and territory. Democratic values encourage criticism of governments and policies, but our enemies are not just protesting the policies of the Israeli government, they are waging political warfare aimed at destroying the Jewish State.

And while Israel thrives — and on many levels has never been stronger — we have done a poor job of fighting the long-term battle against delegitimization. We have often failed to understand the hearts and minds of the public outside of Israel. We have often failed to understand how to influence world opinion in our favor. And we have often neglected to heed the advice and utilize the skills of our brothers, sisters and friends outside of Israel in this regard.

Fortunately, there exists a substantial pro-Israel response on the part of hundreds of separate organizations to combat delegitimization. To date, these pro-Israel organizations work in silos to counter the political warfare launched against us, and their effect is structurally limited. Working separately, pro-Israel organizations lack big picture mapping of threats and assets, data mining, analysis and measurement of effectiveness. They lack global strategic planning. They lack coordination and collaboration, resulting in inefficiencies, redundancies and competition over resources and recognition. They lack information and knowledge sharing. Many important aspects of this battle simply fall through the cracks.

The pro-Israel ecosystem launches lots of campaigns – some impressive and effective, and others outright damaging – but with no overall strategy or battle plan. Bottom line: we are losing ground in this long term battle and we need to change the trajectory.

The Government of Israel, through the Ministry of Strategic Affairs under the leadership of Minister Gilad Erdan, decided to initiate Concert – Together for Israel (previously known as Kela Shlomo) with the strategic goal of changing this momentum and turning the battle in our favor. We need to shift from a defensive and responsive approach, to a strategic, proactive and target oriented approach. We need to change the conversation. Call out our enemies for their anti-Semitism, immorality and culture of hatred, violence and death; focus on the positive in Israel – a vibrant democracy guided by the principles of social justice, a first mover in humanitarian crisis, a world leader in technology, cyberspace and the war on terror.

Concert’s mission is to counter the global Israel delegitimization movement and to improve Israel’s positive image and standing in world public opinion.

Concert is structured as a public benefit company; a long-term partnership between the State of Israel and pro-Israel leadership from around the world. Concert is a non-governmental, non-partisan organization. The challenge is long-term and above politics.

Our initial areas of focus are research and analysis; infrastructure to empower the pro-Israel community; Israel experiences for opinion leaders; marketing and public relations campaigns; and an accelerator for new initiatives.

In initiating Concert, the Government of Israel recognized the need to work together with the pro-Israel community around the world in a true partnership, with room for all political views and affiliations.

Jews are diverse. Sometimes even divided. But when challenged or threatened we come together. We are stronger together. United in Concert.

About the Author
Micah Lakin Avni founded Peninsula Group Ltd., a publicly-traded Israeli commercial finance institution and served as CEO for 18 years. He was ranked among the 100 most influential people in Israel by The Marker Magazine in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Prior to founding Peninsula, Micah served as a General Partner with Jerusalem Global Ventures, and Israeli venture capital firm. Before joining Jerusalem Global Ventures, Micah was a corporate attorney with Yigal Arnon & Co., one of Israel's premier law firms. Micah serves in a volunteer capacity as the chairman of "Voices of Israel”, a long-term partnership between the State of Israel and the global pro-Israel leadership to facilitate ongoing strategic cooperation, counter the global Israel delegitimization movement and improve Israel's positive image and standing in world public opinion. In 2015, Micah’s father Richard Lakin was murdered by Hamas terrorists on a Jerusalem bus. While mourning the loss, Micah dedicated himself to raising awareness of the dangers of allowing terrorists to roam free on social media, communicating, recruiting, and inciting. He wrote op-eds in international newspapers, gave interviews, helped produce movies, lectured at universities, filed lawsuits and lobbied for legislation. These efforts helped set in motion a campaign that yielded dramatic change: While there is still plenty of work to be done, social media titans built significant infrastructures to remove terror groups from their platforms. Micah holds an LLB in Law from the Hebrew University Law School and a joint MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Recanati School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University. Micah lives in Tel Aviv, Israel with his wife and four children.
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