We have something to say: Russian-speakers in Israeli media

16 January 2014

Last month, SHATIL launched a new Russian-Speaking Experts Bank that is already bringing new expert Russian-Israeli voices to the Russian and Hebrew media.

The Experts Bank was born in response to a need to widen the discourse in the Russian media – and through that, on the Russian streets in Israel – to include voices supportive of democracy, civil rights, social justice, and a shared society. The Bank will also bring a greater diversity of Russian voices to the Hebrew media on general issues, not just those specific to the Russian-speaking community.

SHATIL chose 70 experts from among hundreds of candidates and will gradually be adding more experts. Their areas of expertise — along with contact information, photos, activities, and education — appear in Russian and Hebrew in an online data base in which journalists can find interviewees, analysts, and responders at the click of a mouse.

“There are one million Russian-speakers in Israel but we don’t often see them represented on Hebrew language television or newspapers,” said Rachel Shapiro who has a doctorate in education and is a proud member of the Experts Bank. “This important initiative will change that situation and will also provide experts on a variety of issues to the Russian language media in Israel.”

Bar Ilan University sociology professor Larisa Remennick featured the 70 journalists, experts, and activists at the festive launch that included an overview of the former Soviet Union (FSU) community’s integration experiences and influences on employment, education, culture, religion, the media and more. Panels examined issues of Jewish identity, racism, and the community’s relationship with the majority culture and with other minorities. SHATIL also screened a presentation, “23 facts about the Russian immigration (in Hebrew),” marking 23 years since the mass arrival of Russian immigrants.

SHATIL is also using the Experts Bank proactively. For example, after the recent suicide of a gay teenager, project coordinator Nadia Aizner offered the services of a researcher on LGBT Russian youth’s integration into Israeli society to the host of a prime time news show on the Russian language TV channel. The Russian media has welcomed and collaborated with the Experts Bank.

The 70 experts in education, welfare, immigration and absorption, housing, economics, employment, gender, religion and state and individual rights, and democracy were trained by SHATIL to speak to the media. 90%of them are academics, 70% are women and there is a high representation of LGBT and young people.

The launch was covered extensively in Russian language press, online, and on the radio. In just the first week, one of the experts appeared on a prime time news show on the Russian-language Channel 9.