On her own

After years of working in strategic communications, Laura Kam is looking to pave her own path to success.

Laura Kam 370 (photo credit: GLORIA DEUTSCH)
Laura Kam 370
(photo credit: 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 Issacharoff.
“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.
“Since the 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.
She had 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 says.
“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 ally.”
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 into.
“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.