Communicating about a day of crisis in Israel

This was my first crisis at the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), although because most of our work is in Middle East, we didn’t call this one a crisis internally, just a “high alert.”  The news came across the Internet at about 8:30 a.m., not from U.S. media sources, but from media in Israel, where it was afternoon.

A bomb had exploded in the center of Jerusalem, at a bus station, and as we found out soon enough, it had killed a woman and injured dozens of others.  It was another terrorist attack in an escalation this month that included the murder of a Jewish family in the West Bank, and rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza on towns in southern Israel.

Because the core of our work is in the Middle East, this series of events made it necessary to ramp up our communications.  That’s what I was hired to do, more than two weeks ago, so it was time to drive our communications on this “high alert” event.  But I have a terrific staff with experience dealing with crises in Israel, so we jumped into the fray.

We worked with IFCJ founder and president Yechiel Eckstein on a statement that would be used for media and other communiques.  Our advocacy group, Stand for Israel, took the lead in releasing the news and followed the developments throughout the day, on the SFI Blog and Website. Word went out frequently on our multiple Facebook pages (including SFI and IFCJ), and on Twitter.  With a list of supporters in the hundreds of thousands, we had to prepare our people to take their calls, to assure them, to ask for their prayers, and tell them what we had planned.

Another piece had to be written for our friends who may be interested in helping us with our response to the escalating conflict–which includes funding bomb shelters and equipping “first response” emergency teams like the ones that rushed to respond to the bombing in Jerusalem today.  We also had a large group of people who have committed to pray, so an update and request went out to them.

We checked regularly with our  staff in Jerusalem, first to make sure they were safe, and then to find out what they were learning about the situation and what we could do as an organization.

Other pieces needed to be prepared for media, for the IFCJ Website, for other stakeholders.

After a day of non-stop work on communicating about a crisis with human dimensions, it isn’t until you pause at day’s end and realize what a difficult day it is for families and neighbors and countrymen of those killed and injured.  How difficult it is to thrive in a country where innocent people are killed and injured by others who are filled with hatred and bent on destroying a nation.  And you learn why every day we hear in this place the entreaty: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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About Jim Jewell

I am a writer and consultant on faith and public life, active for many years in management and communications in the evangelical community. I now work as the director of the nonprofit practice at The Valcort Group (www.valcort.com). Everything on this blog, however, is my personal opinion and is not read or approved before it is posted. Opinions, conclusions and other information expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Valcort.
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