This month, Beth Jacob’s Young Professionals Friday Night Dinner Program welcomed Dovid Efune, the Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner Journal. After davening, a crowd of nearly 200 moved into the adjoining hall for kiddush and a dvar Torah by Rabbi Adir Posy followed by dinner and the keynote speech.
Efune briefly introduced The Algemeiner, a newspaper covering Jewish interest and news stories around the world. He explained its model, a democratized content approach similar to that of The Huffington Post, and noted that CNBC called it, “the fastest growing Jewish newspaper in the United States.”
He opened his speech, which focused on media bias regarding Israel and what we can do about it, with a joke: An American journalist, a British journalist, and an Israeli soldier were captured by ISIS. The terrorists told them that they would grant each of them one last request before they were beheaded. The American asked for McDonalds, and a terrorist was sent out to bring him some. The Brit said that he was at his core a journalist and asked to interview the leader. The leader granted a 15-minute interview. When the Israeli was asked for his request, he said, “I want you to kick me.” They were happy to oblige, and kicked him. The soldier rolled forward, pulled out a hidden gun, shot the terrorists, grabbed the other journalists, stole a vehicle, and escaped. As they drove away, the other journalists said, “That was amazing, but why you ask them to kick you first?” The Israeli responded, “What, and have you two report that I was the aggressor?!”
Efune spoke about the tremendous media bias he sees surrounding Israel. He said that he thinks we are currently losing the PR war, but also that he believes there is hope. He gave several examples of Algemeiner reporting, and the social media sharing of that reporting, where standing up to the established story—or reporting on a story no one else was reporting on—managed to turn the tide. In one example, he explained that controversial comments by an Egyptian president had been completely ignored by the general media. However, one journalist at another major publication, supported by Algemeiner reporting, managed to make the story a trending topic. Pretty soon, most major news outlets were reporting on the event for fear of missing out.
He closed with a call to action, asking everyone to share articles and expose their network to ideas that they might not be seeing in the media at large. He noted that with the number of friends the average social media user has today, just one share can spread a story to hundreds of people, and hundreds of shares could potentially open a story to millions of viewers who might not have seen it otherwise. In this way, we can individually have a significant impact on how Israel is portrayed and perceived.
The Friday Night Dinner program is a monthly project of the Young Professionals minyan at Beth Jacob, and aims to bring together singles and families from across the community.
For information on the next dinner, visit bethjacob.org