American Jew Buys Major Middle Eastern PR Firm

"Make the Israel story less about politics and more about the people making real breakthroughs in technology."

In the latest public relations news, the largest PR firm in the world, Edelman, purchased Dubai-based PR agency Dabo & Co – which has 60 staff members in 13 countries, including Pakistan.  Edelman’s Middle East staff now surpasses 150 people.

This news is particularly of interest in this region because the CEO of the firm is Richard Edelman, who proclaims himself a proud American Jew. His firm has long represented Saudi Arabia, in order to “promote the Kingdom’s interests among key groups within the world body and to U.N. observers.”  Clearly, the Saudis still have a very mixed record when it comes to Israel – and to Jewish rights in the kingdom.

The company’s blog describes his father, the firm’s founder, as "proud to be Jewish; in his day, Jews had to be better than the rest to get ahead. His faith informed his belief in ethics—there was right or wrong, no grey area.”

Richard Edelman claims to support Israel and his firm has worked pro-bono for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. He has written of the immense emotions he felt saying Kaddish with Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel for his dead father. And how he 

“went to Auschwitz-Birkenau this past summer, having read Wiesel’s moving story, Night, about his time in the death camp. As I watched the now elderly Wiesel, his face lined and his hair tousled under his yarmulke, I thought about Martin Becker praying before the ovens for his own parents, about my youngest daughter’s upcoming bat mitzvah and about my own father.”

Richard Edelman told the London Jewish Chronicle that "Israel has done a very good job with technology and bio-science. It would be good to have a few more hero faces, like technology entrepreneur Shai Agassi. Make the Israel story less about politics and more about all the people who are making real breakthroughs in technology - a business-focused image as opposed to consumer."

While the United Arab Emirates is regarded as a business center, and has made overtures to American Jews, Israel remains a pariah.  Let’s see whether Edelman will make a difference for Israel and Jews – or just make money.