Birthright Israel Hires Agriprocessors' Disgraced Former PR Firm 5WPR
NEW YORK, Aug. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Taglit-Birthright Israel announced today that 5W Public Relations, one of the nation's 25 largest PR agencies, has been appointed to proactively direct and implement their public relations programs. Taglit-Birthright Israel (www.birthrightisrael.com) provides the gift of first time, peer group, educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26.
"We are thrilled to represent Taglit-Birthright Israel," said Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5W Public Relations. "Personally and professionally, we feel very strongly about the mission of Taglit-Birthright Israel and are excited about the challenge of continuing to build the organization's profile. As a firm that has experience working with philanthropies and non profit-groups, we are uniquely qualified to work with Taglit-Birthright Israel and look forward to immediate success."
Taglit-Birthright Israel's founders created this program to send thousands of young Jewish adults from all over the world to Israelas a gift in order to: strengthen participants' personal Jewish identity and their connection to the Jewish communities; diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world; and to strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry.
For those who don't remember, Torossian's firm was hired by Agriprocessors after the May 2008 immigration raid. In its capacity as Agriprocessors PR agency, it impersonated Rabbi Morris Allen and other Agriprocessors critics online – starting right here on FailedMessiah.com.
Under pressure of a lawsuit from the Rabbi Allen and Hechsher Tzedek, Torossian issued a pathetically weak apology at the start of a long holiday weekend and the suit was dropped.
I told Rabbi Allen that allowing Torossian to get off this easy was a mistake. I pointed out Torossian's alleged history of threatening competing PR professionals.
(A favored Torossian tactic is allegedly to tell a woman PR executive that he knows she is having an affair and will tell her husband if the woman ever crosses Torossian or 5WPR again. These affairs are usually non-existent. But who wants to explain that to their spouse?)
But the choice was made by committee and, as so often happens in the Conservative Movement, the choice made was bad.
So know we have this lying, vindictive sleaze controlling public relations for, of all things, Birthright Israel – a program that takes Jews from all streams to Israel.
How do you feel about that now, Conservative leaders?
A better question, though, is how Birthright's funders feel about this. Does Michael Steinhardt approve of this?
If the answer is no, Steinhardt needs to clearly and publicly state it. Otherwise, we all might be led to believe that lying and stealing people's identities are things Steinhardt approves of.
I don't for a moment think Steinhardt approves of Torossian's misbehavior, and I doubt he would have approved the choice to hire Ronn if asked.
But Steinhardt needs to make this clear.
Meanwhile Conservative and Reform leaders should be asking themselves whether they want to continue to support Birthright.
I would suggest that, as long as Torossian and 5WPR are associated with Birthright, the answer to that question should be no.
[Hat Tip: Yirmiyahu.]
UPDATE 6 PM CDT – Mobius has started a Twitter petition calling on Birthright to fire 5WPR.