On her own
After years of working in strategic communications, Laura Kam is looking to pave her own path to success.
Laura Kam Photo: GLORIA DEUTSCH
Although it’s a little hard to see our prime minister in the role of Cupid,
Laura Kam is convinced that if it were not for Binyamin Netanyahu she would
never have met and married her husband, diplomat Jeremy
“After my studies I landed an amazing job as press officer
at the Israeli Consulate in New York, and it was while working there I met a
young, very handsome upand- coming British-born Israeli who had a short
assignment at the Israeli mission to the United Nations,” she says. “We started
dating but three months later he was sent back to Jerusalem. I was heart-broken
as I thought I would never see him again.”
But then Netanyahu stepped
into the picture. In his job as Israeli ambassador to the UN he asked
Issacharoff to come back as political adviser to the Israeli mission to the UN –
a three-year posting.
“Suddenly he was back,” says Kam, “so I have to
give the credit to Bibi. If he had not asked Jeremy to come back, my life would
be completely different.”
In 1988 they married and a year later they made
aliya. Now Kam, who has had a lively career in strategic communications, working
for the Anti-Defamation League both here and in the US and later for the Israel
Project, a pro-Israel advocacy nonprofit, is branching out on her own with the
establishment of her own consulting firm, Kam Global Strategy.
beginning of my career I was thrust into the nexus of power and media,” says the
54-year-old ex-New Yorker and mother of three. Always involved with Israel from
her first visit at age 18, she wanted to stay even then but her parents, who had
both been in hiding during the Holocaust in their native Belgium, were adamant
that she come home and finish her studies.
“I have no doubt when I
decided in my sophomore year to do a semester in Israel, the history of my
family was an important factor in my choice,” she says. With a first degree in
social science and education and a master’s in social work and community
organization, she was well-equipped for her first job with the ADL and worked
closely with Abe Foxman, the organization’s director, for 17 years, in New York,
Washington and Jerusalem.
Her husband’s burgeoning career meant that they
would often be posted abroad – luckily to the United States, so she could
maintain her own career. In time she became co-director of the Jerusalem office
of the ADL and also worked for them in Washington.
“Again and again I
found myself dealing with top-tier media in the world, especially in the US. The
people I worked with included prime ministers and presidents and top government
officials. Particularly in New York, but also Washington, Israel is like a local
story. It’s quite remarkable – there is no other country in the world that has
that kind of relationship with the media,” she says.
After 17 years at
the ADL, while her husband was at his second posting in Washington as deputy
ambassador from 2005 to 2009, she decided it was time to move on.
met Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, the founder of the Israel Project, and quickly
became a part of the team. A non-profit founded in 2002 by Mizrachi, an expert
in strategic communication, TIP gets information about Israel and the Middle
East into the media and to the public. Kam stayed there for seven years,
becoming head of global affairs and honing her skills in dealing with public
opinion and pushing out the positive messages about Israel to counter the
ubiquitously hostile ones.
“It was very challenging work,” she
“Good news about Israel doesn’t interest the journalists as much as
the conflict. But we were able to get some positive coverage in Europe and the
US thanks to our shared values – fighting terror and being a Western
More importantly, she was struck with the important role that
China and the East in general had the potential to play, given the growing
business ties between Israel and the Orient.
“I feel I have identified a
niche,” she says. “I have no doubt that China is the future. And we can really
help each other.”
During the course of her research she has discovered
that the Chinese are very intrigued by Israel and the Jews and are fascinated to
discover how little Israel became the start-up nation that it has grown
“I aim, as part of my business plan, to work with Chinese
businessmen who want to learn about Israeli innovations and to build on the
incredible interest in the book Start-Up Nation – which got hundreds of media
hits in China,” she says.
“Little Israel can do so much to help huge
China move forward, and I aim to help that happen.”
It will mean a great
deal of traveling and leaving her home in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood every
so often. Husband Issacharoff also leads a peripatetic life as he is leading
Israel’s diplomatic effort vis-a-vis Iran in the world, visiting and talking to
world leaders about the threat.
While hoping Laura will succeed in her
exciting initiative, it would not be farfetched to hope that Issacharoff
succeeds even more.