Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office
Miri Eisen
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Office

Israel’s new PR face

Miri Eisen is Israel’s Karl Rove in a skirt, high heels but far more attractive and with better sense of style

At a time when Israel is under attack from both its friends and enemies, Israeli "hasbara" (public relations) might be the hardest job on the planet. But Miri Eisin, the prime minister’s new foreign media advisor, is more than up to the challenge


She is the first female serving the prime minister in such a position. In addition, she is a married mother of three children age seven, five, and two. To remind her of what she is missing at home, she carries around with her not one but two pictures of her children. I wanted to call her a super woman but Miri demurred. “I do not cook.”


Miri, 43, has served her country all of her adult life. "Maybe being an olah (new immigrant), I have seen the country from the outside and appreciate it even more,” she explains. She retired several years ago from the army as a Colonel: “Out of 450 colonels, I was one of only fifteen women. I still outrank my husband, Gilad. I am used to being the first woman and breaking barriers.”


She spent her career in intelligence which she found “fascinating. It was like putting pieces of a puzzle together. I sacrificed a lot for my country. I delayed getting married and having children to serve.” Her proud father, Morry Bode, said, “He had come to Israel to serve himself. But in the end, his greatest contribution to the state of Israel is Miri.”


When her husband Gilad as honored with a Wexner fellowship to the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Miri thought she would take the year off and spend time being mom and prepare her application for a doctorate at Haifa University. But she could not resist the call to duty and served as a special advisor to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston.


Communication war

Eisin has defended Israel both in her army service and television appearances. With her years of military service and specialization in intelligence, she has instant credibility with the audience. She has been a tireless advocate for Israel on CNN, Fox etc for years especially during the Intifada, the hearings at The Hague over the separation fence, and the recent Lebanon War.


Linguist Deborah Tannen, an expert in communication says, “Men and women communicate differently.” Maybe now Israel needs a woman to deliver her message. As her mother kvelled, “Miri answers in a non-aggressive manner the most aggressive and obnoxious questions.”


Ann Curry of the Today Show gave her an even greater compliment. “Whatever they are paying you, it is not enough.” Eisen is Israel’s Karl Rove in a skirt and high heels but far more attractive and with a better sense of style.


Strong Zionist ties

Having been born in Northern California and speaking unaccented English has enhanced her ability to communicate with foreign audiences. Eisen's family always had strong Israel Jewish ties and her parents made a special effort to ingrain these values in their children.


But after her parents made their first visit to Israel, a three week tour of Israel in 1970, they made the snap decision to make Aliyah and move the entire family to Israel including their three daughters Miri, Tova, and Debbie.


Miri’s mother said “We were tired of Hippieville (Haight Ashbury in the seventies) and were ready for a change. Our good friends, the musician Jeremy Epstein and his family had already here so we felt right at home.”


Miri’s father was an engineer that had been recruited by Israeli Aircraft Industries as far back as 1965 so he was not concerned about securing employment.


After the school year, the family set sail from New York on the Greek cruiser liner, Queen Anna Marie. The family waved at the Statue of Liberty on their way out and watched the Israeli flag being raised as they entered the port of Haifa.


The Bode family spent their first few months in an absorption center in Afula. They then moved to the Anglo section of Ramat Aviv. There the family found many people just like them and felt at home immediately. They were early and still active members of the conservative synagogue Tiferet Shalom.


Early career

Miri’s television career started early. Her Bat Mitzvah held in a Reform Synagogue in Tel Aviv was shown on the Israeli television show “Mabat Sheni” (Lit. Second Look). At the time, a Bat Mitzah that was non-Orthodox where men and women sat together was very rare in Israel: “Some of the guests thought they had landed on Mars. They had never seen women and men seated together inside a synagogue."


Her talents as an emissary for Israel were recognized in the twelfth grade. She was sent as on a speaking tour of the States for two months in the spring.


After her required Army service, Eisin completed an undergraduate degree at Tel Aviv University in political science and Middle Eastern Studies. She went to Haifa University and the IDF Defense College for graduate studies in security studies. She was just accepted in a doctorate program at Haifa University. Her studies are now deferred so she can serve her country once again.


On duty

Her education and knowledge acquired in the IDF was put to use with the foreign media during the recent Lebanon War. It attracted the favorable attention of the whole world including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.


Leaving her comfortable home and young family, she spent five nights and even more days in the North. The stress of the sirens and the sounds of the Katyushas falling had a profound psychological impact on Miri. “Back in my own bed, it took me several days just to be able to sleep through the night.”


Her children did not see her for days at a time. “My two-year old hugged the television every time I was on and said ‘Mommy Miri.'" When her daughter saw her on television, she cried because Miri was not smiling. “Why isn’t mommy smiling?” she asked. So now when she is on television, Miri puts her finger near her chin so that her daughter knows that everything is okay.


But even after that stressful experience, she could not refuse the Prime Minister when he asked her to serve as his foreign media advisor. Miri claims not to be political: “I will serve my country as long as it is Jewish and a Democracy. It can not just be Jewish or a democracy. It has to be both.


פרסום ראשון: 09.11.06, 15:38
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