(July 2, 2019 / JNS) Josh Block, a former Clinton aide, announced on Monday that he is stepping down after seven years as CEO and president of the nonpartisan educational group The Israel Project (TIP).
Block announced his departure in a post on the blogging site Medium, mentioning that he notified TIP’s board of directors in June.
“It has been an honor to head such a dynamic organization, led by a wonderful board and an amazing chairman, full of talented people who didn’t seek credit or the limelight, but do this work because they grasp the vital nature of ensuring that the truth about Israel is reflected in the media and lies and defamations of the Jewish people are defeated,” he told JNS.
The Israel Project seeks to educate the media and others about Israel and the Middle East and provide “real-time background information, images, maps, audio, video, graphics and direct access to newsmakers,” according to its website.
Under Block’s tenure, the organization launched its publishing platform is TheTower.org, with The Tower magazine. Newsweek has called it “a must read.”
“Much has been accomplished, yet more remains to be done,” stated Block in a farewell post. “The polarized political climate in the United States, both in the wider body politic and inside the Jewish community, is making it increasingly difficult for nonpartisan organizations , especially those whose work, like press outreach in today’s public debate, is like infrastructure — necessary, but not sexy and often discreet — to enlist passionate, committed supporters willing to set aside differing views in pursuit of common purpose ; in our case, strengthening Israel and ensuring the facts and truth are told in the media about the Jewish state.”
In his farewell post, Block noted that there will be a transition “to decide how it can best address the needs and challenges in the current environment, under the direction of its wonderful board of directors and my talented colleagues, TIP vice president Lior Weintraub and COO Elliott Mendes, to whom I pass the torch of professional leadership.”
Before leading TIP, Block served in numerous roles from being a press secretary on U.S. President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996 to serving as spokesman and director of strategic communications of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
‘A great leader of the pro-Israel community’
Reactions from the Jewish community poured in following Block’s announcement.
“Josh has done a remarkable job building TIP. He is a talented and deeply committed professional, and a good friend,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told JNS. “I am sure he will continue to play a significant role in addressing the issues he cares about so deeply.”
Aaron Keyak, a Democratic strategist and former interim executive director for the National Jewish Democratic Council, told JNS, “Having worked with Josh over the years—sometimes on the same side and sometimes not—there’s no question that he’s an aggressive and talented operator, along with being a passionate leader in advocating for the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
In 2015, Block opposed U.S. President Barack Obama’s Iran deal, which the United States withdrew from in May 2018, and supported U.S. President Donald Trump moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, five months after recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
“Josh Block is a great leader of the pro-Israel community,” William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy at the Jewish Federations of North America, told JNS. “His years as a senior operative at AIPAC and then at the helm of The Israel Project helped transform the discussion about the U.S.-Israel relationship in America and strengthen pro-Israel advocacy around the world.”
AIPAC spokesperson Marshall Wittmann told JNS, “Josh is a very talented media professional who has made an important contribution as the leader of The Israel Project to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
“Josh has been a tireless advocate for Israel and the Jewish community, and has innovative approach and inventive strategies have helped make an impact. I’m been proud to call him a colleague and friend,” ADL national director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt told JNS. “While his leadership at the helm of TIP will be sorely missed, I hope he stays involved in advocacy work around these issues even as he explores new horizons.”