Sunday, November 03, 2019

Ron Prosor is Israeli UN ambassador I enjoyed quoting most in this site. I published the full text of several of his speeches. The speeches were witty, and always included some funny jokes or sound bites.

From 2013 through 2015, they were written by his chief speechwriter, Aviva Klompas.

Klompas has now written an account of her time working at Israel's Mission to the UN, entitled Speaking for Israel. It is a fun read, at times funny and at times maddening, as this polite Canadian woman gets thrown into Israeli government insanity, working long hours for little pay but with the satisfaction of knowing that she was helping Israel.

After an interview where she is asked to do an impossible task (write an op-ed about Mali in 30 minutes,) Klompas is hired and hurled into international politics and Israeli bluntness.

Prosor is the star. Personable, funny and charismatic, he also has a very clear idea of what kind of message he wants to give to the UN and journalists. He loves cheesy one-liners and Winston Churchill quotes. But sometimes he wants to show a righteous anger at how ridiculous and unfair a world is that constantly vilifies Israel.

Klompas manages to get inside his head and write what he wants. But she also has to write for visiting ministers (their speeches are supposed to be written in Israel yet somehow they always arrive empty-handed and requiring a speech in an instant). Prosor might want to write an op-ed for the New York Times or Wall Street Journal - and it is Klompas who actually does the writing.

Much like his boss, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ron Prosor loved props for his speeches. During the 2014 Gaza war he was to speak at the UN Security Council, and Klompas suggested he play the sound of the Tzeva Adom sirens that Israelis in the range of Gaza rockets had to hear day and night. Without having a chance to practice, Prosor spoke and Klompas gave her phone, siren blaring, to Prosor at the proper time.

Beyond that, Klompas had even more pressure during UN sessions. Israel has the right to respond to others' speeches, and while before Prosor it rarely exercised that right, he used it liberally. This means that Klompas had to write a response in real time in the UN chambers to be handed to the ambassador.

Not that Prosor couldn't work without her. His extemporaneous speeches were great as well. But he had a lot to do and needed his staff to do work like this. Klompas herself needed lots of help from interns and other staffers, and when things were really crazy during that 2014 war she once reached out to her predecessor to give her a hand.

Klompas describes the all-nighters, the constant pressure, the contradictory demands from different people, and the "advice" from people who were not native English speakers.  She talks about Prosor's attempts to help Israel gain an equal footing at the UN as every other nation, something denied to Israel traditionally because of Arab hate. She describes her shock at being expected to just pick up a phone and call the Israeli ambassador to the US on his cell phone for advice on a section of a speech.

One accented person called her, without identifying himself, and asked for a lesson in pronouncing the word "lengths." (After a few minutes, she gave up and told him he got it perfect.)

The book is filled with funny anecdotes like those. But in between those stories and excerpts of speeches, it describes Israel's position on everything, its history with trying to reach peace with the Palestinians, the endemic anti-Israel bias at the UN, and other background information that makes "Speaking for Israel" a nice defense of Israel as well.

(The forward from Alan Dershowitz is a worthless page and a half. It looks like it was written in ten minutes and is more an ego trip for Dershowitz. But his name is just as prominent on the cover as Klompas'. Marketing!)

"Speaking for Israel" does not describe much about Klompas' personal life, and it may have benefited from a bit more opening up - we have no idea how this high pressure position affected her social life or if she had any social life outside the Mission at all. It has little about her upbringing or family. (I had to go to her webpage to find out she is now Associate Vice President of Israel & Global Jewish Citizenship at Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston.)

"Speaking for Israel" is an entertaining and educational book, showing not only what goes on behind the scenes at the Israel Mission to the UN (which I had the privilege of visiting earlier this year) but also how Israel defends itself in the international arena. It also might be a great introduction to showing today's youth how a young person with skills but no prior experience can make a real difference for Israel.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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