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Speaker to be brought here April 24 by Jewish Federation stripped by Israeli government of her title as Israel’s “Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and Delegitimization of Israel”

For more than two months now the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg has been advertising an event featuring someone by the name of Noa Tishby. Now, to be honest, the poster featuring a picture of Ms. Tishby was certainly likely to draw most readers’ attention. After all, in 2007 she was voted “Sexiest Woman in Israel.”
In a press release issued by the Jewish Federation which ran in our March 29 issue, the Federation explained why Ms. Tishby was being brought here:
“On April 24, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg will welcome Israeli-American star Noa Tishby to address the troubling rise in antisemitism to a Winnipeg audience at the Centennial Concert Hall.
“Noa Tishby is an artist, producer, author, and activist. In April 2022, she was appointed as Israel’s first-ever Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and Delegitimization of Israel. She is a keynote speaker and panelist and has spoken at the United Nations General Assembly and was named one of the 50 Most Powerful Jews in the World.
“In 2021, Noa published her first book, ‘Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth.’ A Peabody Award winner and Emmy and Golden Globe nominee for her work on the HBO show In Treatment, she recently had a high-profile appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher to address antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel.”

Information on Noa Tishby’s own website provides even more information about how she came to be involved in Israel advocacy and how she has come to be recognized as a prominent defender of Israel:
“In 2011 Tishby founded the first Israel-focused online advocacy and rapid response organization, Act For Israel, and became a powerful voice for Israel and the Middle East. In 2014 she initiated a partnership between The Schusterman Foundation and Summit Series and co-created Reality Israel, a series of leadership trips to Israel for Jews and non-Jews alike. To date, Reality has brought to Israel thousands of professionals in tech, music, food, sports and the arts and sciences. She was recognized as one of the 50 Most Powerful Jews in the World and was on Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Power list of international executives.
Tishby is a keynote speaker and panelist at events around the world and has appeared in such venues as the United Nations General Assembly, where she has discussed everything from BDS to Israeli innovation. She is a contributor to publications such as The Huffington Post, Jerusalem Post, The Jewish Journal, Tablet and Ynet, where she writes about policy, culture and international relations.
“After years of speaking and writing about Israel, both publicly and privately, Tishby has deciphered how to explain the complexities of Israel in a clear and relatable way. Her first book Israel: a Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, was published in 2021 by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
“Tishby served in the Israeli army for two and a half years and can, when needed and if pushed to do it, kick some serious ass. She divides her time between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv, and is a proud Jewish momma to her son, Ari.”

Yet, on April 2, Ms. Tishby was fired by the Israeli government as its Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel. (It should also be noted that Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the same day that he was firing Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, but apparently Minister Gallant was never handed an official letter of dismissal; he has remained in his post.)

The Israeli news site 21C reported why Ms. Tishby was fired:: “An Israeli actress tapped by the Israeli government to serve as a special envoy has been fired after she spoke out publicly against the judicial reform plan.
Tishby called the current Israeli government ‘extreme,’ and publicly criticized the judicial reform plan, telling Bill Maher that the reforms are opposed by a majority of Israelis and are unlikely to pass.”
On Sunday, March 31 (sic. the actual date was April 2), Ms. Tishby announced “that the Israeli Foreign Ministry had fired her from the position.
“Tishby said that while she was not given a reason for the loss of her title as envoy, she strongly suspects it is tied to her recent public comments against the judicial overhaul.
“ ‘It is not possible for me to know if their decision was driven by my publicly stated concerns about this government’s ‘judicial reform policy.’ But given the reality that antisemitism continues its dangerous rise globally, and the threat to Israel’s existence through delegitimization policies has not slowed, it is difficult to come to any other reasonable conclusion.’
“ ‘When I accepted the Special Envoy position from former Foreign Minister Lapid, I did so because the threat to Jews around the world is as significant today as any other point since the Holocaust, and the risks to Israel are as great today as they have been since our nation’s birth. As an advocate for justice and equality, I felt an obligation to stand with the many others united in the fight against hate.”
“ ‘That does not mean I must suppress my views and my decision to speak out was not taken lightly. I voiced concerns because I believe absolutely in the importance of an independent judiciary in safeguarding the democratic system. Open and honest debate with those in government is at the core of Israel’s long-term well-being and our status as the region’s single consistent democracy. True patriotism involves standing up for the values and principles that form the foundation of our nation, even when it means questioning or opposing policies implemented by this or any government.”
“I am disappointed by their decision but remain steadfast in my commitment to fighting antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel on the global stage. It has been an honor to work with incredible partners and organizations dedicated to promoting understanding, tolerance, and respect for Israel and the Jewish people. As an advocate, an artist—and most importantly as an American-Israeli citizen and a Jew—my work will continue in our joint effort to create a brighter future for Israel and the Jewish people.”

Now, while Ms. Tishby may have garnered a reputation as an ardent defender of Israel – and has earned quite a few speaking engagements as a result, the fact she was fired from her position as Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and Delegitimization of Israel does raise some interesting questions.
For one, we wondered whether the Israeli Consulate in Toronto had anything to say about Ms. Tishby’s firing. We posed this question to the Consulate:
“Does the Consulate have a position with regard to Noa Tishby speaking about antisemitism in various cities – since the Israeli government fired her as the special representative on antisemitism?”
We received this response: “I’m afraid I cannot answer your question. We have no position on this issue and are not privy to the details.”

As well, in looking at the website for the organization which handles booking speaking engagements for Ms. Tishby, we noted that she charges a fee of from $30-50,000.
On Wednesday, April 5 we sent this email to various representatives of the Federation:
“I’m puzzled as to why the Federation is bringing in Noa Tishby as a speaker.
“From what I can see on her agency website, she charges between $30-50,000 for an appearance. Can you confirm that you’ve paid somewhere in that amount?
“Also, what particular qualifications does she bring? I’ve read some of her writings on the subject of antisemitism and watched a couple of videos of her.
“I don’t see that she has anything fresh to say – or anything that hasn’t already been said so many times before. Is there something I’m missing?
“Finally, in your most recent press release you continue to refer to her as Israel’s Special Envoy on antisemitism. Are you simply deliberately ignoring the fact she was fired from that position on Sunday for criticizing the Israeli government’s position on judicial reform?”

We received this response from Adam Levy, Public Relations & Communications Director for the Federation:
“We are excited to welcome Noa to Winnipeg on April 24. Noa remains an expert on combating antisemitism, and we look forward to her direct and engaging perspective on this topic as she addresses our community and a broader Winnipeg audience.
“Although Noa is no longer Israel’s Special Envoy on Antisemitism, it was a position that she held for a year and has brought heightened awareness of antisemitism to social media, as well as to communities and college campuses across North America. Noa also provides relatable understanding and context regarding Israel, and its past, present, and future.
“Our event has been fully sponsored by concerned community members who believe that the rise in antisemitism warrants a strong response. Noa remains a strong spokesperson in the fight against it.”

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