ISRAEL21c’s website celebrates 2nd anniversary

www.israel21c.org has published more than 500 stories about the valuable contributions that Israel is making to the world in fields as diverse as health and science, technology, and culture.Two years ago, the ISRAEL21c website was launched with a clear goal …

www.israel21c.org has published more than 500 stories about the valuable contributions that Israel is making to the world in fields as diverse as health and science, technology, and culture.Two years ago, the ISRAEL21c website was launched with a clear goal – to make the world aware of the achievements and accomplishments of the modern and successful nation of Israel: a country that lives, thrives, and achieves every day – the dynamic and democratic Israel that exists beyond the ongoing conflict with its neighbors.

As the site www.israel21c.org celebrates its second birthday this week, the organization can proudly declare with confidence that that it has become an authoritative and complete source of news and information regarding Israel in the 21st century.

The site has published more than 500 stories about the valuable contributions that Israel is making to the world each day in fields as diverse as health and science, technology, and culture.

Beyond the website, ISRAEL21c has succeeding in making major American newspapers aware of these stories. Its efforts have resulted in articles published in the New York Times business section and articles in the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, San Francisco Examiner, San Jose Mercury News, Philadelphia Inquirer and others. Several stories have moved on the major newswires and have been picked up by hundreds of other papers. In July, ISRAEL21c played a crucial role in bringing images of Christopher Reeve’s trip to Israel back to news outlets in the U.S.

As a result of its work and persistence, the organization has won the respect and appreciation of the Israeli government.

“We need to go back to the basics and talk about the different Israel, the Israel with so many great achievements in health care, high tech and other fields,” said Gideon Meir, the Deputy Director-General for Media and Public Affairs in the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “This is where ISRAEL21c comes in. It’s a program that has our full support.”

ISRAEL21c has filled a key niche at a time when Israel has been increasingly identified in the eyes of the world solely as the site of conflict, death and destruction. In these tense times, Israel advocacy organizations, and the Israeli government itself, were caught up in the difficult struggle to argue Israel’s case in regard to the conflict.

The need for an outlet which showcases the Israel that exists beyond the conflict were clear and imperative, and ISRAEL21c has stepped in to fill the role.

Making the public aware of the ways in which Israel contribute to the world is not a trivial matter. It has been proven that Americans – both Jews and non-Jews – show greater appreciation for Israel when they are provided with information about Israel and its remarkable advancements, culture, and democratic nature.

Traffic to the ISRAEL21c site on the World Wide Web has shown that there is an audience for this message. Visits to the site have consistently grown by an average of 35% during each quarter since its launch, usually registering thousands of daily visits.

ISRAEL21c’s stories and daily updates are featured regularly on Google’s News channel, bringing them to attention worldwide.

According to Alexa, the “Nielsen Ratings” of the Net the ISRAEL21c’s site is ranked 131,000 in terms of traffic, among the millions of sites on the net, with more regular visitors than the sites of established advocacy organizations such as AIPAC or the American Jewish Congress.

The American Jewish world has found the information provided by ISRAEL21c to be invaluable. Almost half of the 55 American Jewish federations using the UJC FedWeb template, provide an ISRAEL21c story on their site each week. Content from the ISRAEL21c site has been picked up by hundreds of Jewish websites including Yahoo, Jewsweek, Birthright Israel, Big News Network, and countless newspapers, organizations and synagogues, as well as Hillel’s Israel Campus Beat, and Israeli consulates around the world.

Divided in five “channels” and an opinion section, the ISRAEL21c site is now clearly the primary source of information for people interested in Israeli innovations in the fields of technology, science and health. The culture and profile channels offer a wide-ranging view of a dynamic and vibrant Israel which goes far beyond the headlines of the day.

But from its inception, ISRAEL21c has aspired to send its message to those who get their news and information from the mainstream media, and who may never see its website. A year ago, ISRAEL21c began working with the mainstream print and broadcast media in order to convey stories of Israel beyond the Middle East conflict to audiences in America and around the world.

As a result, in 2003, 35 different stories, pitched by ISRAEL21c made it into mainstream American media outlets: 10 wire service stories, 309 stories in daily newspapers or magazines, 15 network news stories, 97 local television news stories, and stories, major webzines and other Internet sources of information.

This means that more than 400 stories which included positive images of Israel which would otherwise have not have appeared in the mainstream American media, made it into print or on the air as a result of ISRAEL21c’s efforts.

Perhaps the highest-profile story that ISRAEL21c worked on over the past year was the historic visit by Christopher Reeve to Israel in July.

While ISRAEL21c did not arrange the visit itself, it ensured that this opportunity was seized in order to shine the spotlight on Israel’s advanced research capabilities.

During Reeve’s visit, ISRAEL21c’s work resulted in tens of local television news stories about the cutting-edge spinal cord injury research and treatment taking place in Israel being broadcast across the United States.

The fact that ISRAEL21c, using satellite and fiber optic technology to send footage of Reeves’ visit back to the U.S. and distribute them to television news organizations, ensured that the story was reported in a way that emphasized the breakthrough scientific research Reeve had come to see, and that the story was not merely reported as ‘Christopher Reeve visits Israel.’

Another high-profile story placement that ISRAEL21c generated during the year was a feature highlighting Jewish-Arab business cooperation in Nazareth, headlined “Technology offers hope for coexistence in Israel” which appeared on the front page of the New York Times Business Section and in the International Herald Tribune.

As the result of ISRAEL21c’s work, the newspaper USA Today carried a story describing clinical trials of what could be might be “the first effective tools to use against the deadly West Nile virus that has swept across the country since it’s arrival in 1999.” The research and development of what may prove to be a life-saving vaccine took place at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

When former Prime Minister Shimon Peres travelled to Washington to keynote a conference on Nanotechnology, a developing field of molecular technology that Peres, among others, believes may be the key to extraordinary human and economic progress in the future, ISRAEL21c worked to enhance his media exposure. ISRAEL21c booked Peres on CNN’s “Charley Rose” show and “Newsnight with Aaron Brown” to speak about nanotechnology.

As the ISRAEL21c website enters it third year, plans are underway to intensify its efforts at generating many more stories in the mainstream American media, with a greater emphasis on television, through shooting and distributing a series of satellite B-Roll newsfeeds to television networks and stations.

At the same time, it will continue to provide the latest news on the website about Israel’s latest discoveries in medicine, health and technology, as well as profiles of individual Israelis and stories on culture and global democracy that contribute to make Israel a singular beacon of light that shines around the world.