In a bit of strange irony, a Jewish-owned PR Agency represents the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, yet, a Washington, D.C.-based, Jewish reporter for The Jerusalem Post
was forbidden entry to Saudi Arabia last week.
The Saudis refused to allow Michael Wilner, the Washington bureau chief for the newspaper entree to the country to cover the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.
As Wilner said: "I am an American journalist covering the travel of an American president. We consider it unfortunate that Saudi Arabia would deny any legitimate reporter the ability to complete that work, much less one properly credentialed, in the White House press corps, expressly invited on the trip. We have little doubt that my access was denied either because of my media affiliation or because of my religion.”
Although the White House complained, the visit will continue and this issue will quickly be forgotten. That said, the Saudis are quite concerned about their brand in the West. It’s a constant and regular concern: The nation spent over $100 million from 2000 to 2010 on American PR, and retains the largest independent PR firm in the world, Edelman, which is tasked with promoting “the Kingdom’s interests among key groups within the world body and to UN observers.” Further, this year, the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) hosted “the fourth Public Relations Forum” in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Interestingly, Richard Edelman, the owner of the company that represents Saudi Arabia is an outwardly involved Jew. As he says on his company blog there’s a long history of a family that is “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 supports Israel and is proud of the pro bono work his firm has done for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. He has written of the emotion he felt saying Kaddish with Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel for his dead father.
He has also written about 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.”
He’s a proud American Jew who spoke of “a Mitzvah, a special memory that we will be sure to relate to all whom we encounter. We are joined with you forever in preserving this vital piece of history, so that it never happens again.”
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Quite interesting that the Saudis ban a reporter who is Jewish, yet employ a PR firm that’s so deeply involved Jewish issues.
Review this press release which was issued by Edelman
on March 20:
“Today, King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) announced the formation of the Red Sea Forum, an economic initiative that will bring together American Midcap companies and KAEC to spur economic development opportunities in the Middle East. The forum will be held in New York City this October 2014. The announcement comes as United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker visits the Kingdom to strengthen economic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Secretary Pritzker's call to boost U.S.-Saudi economic relations is a vital steppingstone to expanding investment partnerships in the Middle East.”
Read to the bottom of the release, and you will see the press contact is an Edelman employee. I guess money trumps all.
Saudi oil money is influential and has a very long reach.
Ronn Torossian is the CEO/president of 5W Public Relations, one of
the top 25 largest independently owned PR agencies in the US, with
industries spanning beauty, health & wellness, consumer, food and
beverage, technology, and many others.