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Press Release – 28 July 2010

The Analyst, the Activist and the Educator:
A Trio of Perspectives on Israel and the Media

Three of Israel’s foremost advocacy experts will be guest speakers at a panel hosted by the Zionist Council of Victoria and Zionist Federation of Australia on Sunday August 15.

Ron Ben Yishai, Michelle Rojas-Tal and Scott Copeland will discuss issues and strategies regarding Israel’s depiction in the media, clearly one of the greatest ongoing challenges to pro-Israel activity.

Award-winning Ron Ben-Yishai is a commentator on national & international affairs and Special Assignment Correspondent for “Yedioth Achronot” Daily, and its news website Ynet ( He is the author of numerous articles and has directed many TV documentaries and radio programs. Ron speaks Hebrew, Arabic, English and German.

Mr. Ben-Yishai deals extensively with matters of Israeli and Middle Eastern regional security, Israeli foreign policy and international affairs. He has covered – on location – ethnic and religious conflicts and the human situation in Afghanistan, Iran, Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia, Kenya, Kashmir, Romania, the Gulf, the Kurds in Iraq & Turkey, Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya.

He is the recipient of a number of special awards, among them the “Kinor David” for “Best TV Documentary of the Year” in 1978 and the Israeli Newspaper Publishers “Outstanding Journalist of the Year” in 1989.

This will be Michelle Rojas-Tal’s second visit to Australia, after wowing audiences in both Melbourne and Sydney, with her passion and eloquence, last year.

Ms Rojas-Tal grew up in a very different environment to many in the Jewish world. As the daughter of a Jewish mother and a Hispanic father, Michelle had very little connection with the Jewish world in her younger years.

During her junior year of high school, she witnessed the horrific events of September 11th. The event had a domino effect of where life was to take her and where events taking place in Israel, suddenly mattered. During the next few years, she began to actively take up the cause of advocacy for Israel and the Jewish people.

Michelle began her work at StandWithUs ( in 2005 in Israel, as the Jerry Seinfeld Family Scholar and by partaking in an Ambassadors’ training course at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She then returned to New York to serve for 2 years as the StandWithUs Community Outreach Coordinator, working with numerous organisations in the field of advocacy.

Michelle made Aliyah in July 2007, joining the StandWithUs International team as Diaspora Education Director. In her position, Michelle coordinates all programs for International students in Israel including the flagship ‘Ambassadors’ Club’ program. Michelle also handles outreach to activists abroad in South America, Australia and South Africa. Michelle’s position has taken her to Switzerland, South Africa, Turkey, and Australia, being featured as a keynote speaker at numerous conferences and forums.

Director of Israel Travel Education at Makom, Scott Copeland has worked as a teacher, tour guide, and educator in a wide variety of Israeli and Diaspora settings. He was the Education Director at Hadassah’s Mount Scopus Youth Center, and directed the Archaeological Seminars Tour Guide Course under the supervision of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. He has taught in Jewish communities around the world and has been deeply involved in educational tourism not only in Israel, but also in places like Poland and Jordan. His areas of expertise include Israel studies, Jewish history and thought, issues of history and memory, and travel as an informal educational arena.

Copeland holds a B.A. from Brandeis University in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies, and an M.A. from Hebrew University’s Institute of Contemporary Jewry. Until 2002, Scott was a Fellow at the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows, a prestigious leadership development centre for the Jewish educational world. In August 2002, he was invited to join the faculty of the Mandel Leadership Institute, and served as its Dean of Fellows. 

In his military reserve duty, Scott is an officer with the IDF Spokesperson’s Bureau.

The Jewish Agency’s Makom – the Israel Engagement Network, began in 2004 in North America.  Through this network the JA have succeeded in laying intellectual groundwork and inspiring new initiatives that have significantly advanced the field of Israel education.  Currently, 13 Zionist Federations are part of Makom.

“The relationship between Israel and the media is challenging to say the least” said ZCV Executive Director Ginette Searle and ZFA Executive Director Robbie Franco. “There are so many factors to contend with when dealing with sound bytes and an ever-evolving media. Whether your interaction with the media is letter-writer, blogger, facebooker, tweeter or tv-watcher we urge you to come along, take part and discuss”.

“Israel and the Media – The Analyst, the Activist and the Educator” will take place on Sunday evening, August 15 at 8pm, Beth Weizmann Community Centre – 306 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield South. Admission is $10, $5 for youth and free for participants of the ZFA Educators Conference. 

For more information contact:
Ginette Searle – Executive Director, Zionist Council of Victoria 9272 5544
Elly Shalev – Director Public Affairs, Zionist Council of Victoria 9272 5519
The Zionist Council of Victoria leads and encourages Jewish and Zionist activity and expression within Victoria, to represent the Jewish community, to promote and communicate Israel’s interests within the broader Victorian community and to promote Victoria’s relationship with Israel. For more information, visit the Zionist Council of Victoria website