[:en]By Joshua Levitt
The Israel Defense Forces has created a Spanish speaking department that has partnered with media advocacy experts Fuente Latina, the “Latin Source,” to bring Israel’s position to the world’s 500 million Spanish speakers.
On the sidelines of the 2014 AIPAC Policy Conference, IDF Captain Roni Kaplan, a Uruguayan-Israeli with Russian and Polish roots, told The Algemeiner in an interview that, with the help of Fuente Latina, the world’s leading Spanish-language programs have allowed him to bring the IDF’s point of view to new audiences.
“There are 500 million Spanish speakers in the world, but, unfortunately, with so many other battle fronts, the IDF never has been able to focus on the people in this region, until the IDF Spokesman made a conscious decision for this to become a new front for us,” Kaplan said.
In that battle, Kaplan is aided by a new organization called Fuente Latina, created by Leah Soibel, who has 10 years of experience in intelligence, journalism and public relations.
“We realized that the Hispanic world was way too important, with way too many people and powerful media outlets, that were very open to learning more about the Middle East – Iran, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Israel – and we recognized that we could add value,” Soibel said. “We also brought a methodical focus on follow-through and leveraging the power of the huge poles of influence in the Spanish speaking media that we’ve now seen is successful.”
For example, Fuente Latina helped book Kaplan on the talk show hosted by Mexican Jorge Ramos, considered to be the most watched news program in the Spanish speaking world.
“Jorge Ramos, Andres Oppenheimer, Oscar Haza, Ricardo Brown from Fox Mundo, TV Azteca, in Mexico, all the important programs,” Kaplan said.
“My first role for the IDF was to help the top IDF Spokesman, to make sure that when he was being quoted in the Spanish-language press, the translation didn’t come out as muro, or wall, but barrera de seguridad, the security fence,” he said.
What proved his own theory about the interest of the Spanish-speaking community in Israel was that during Israel’s 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, Kaplan gave 150 interviews throughout the month-long conflict in Gaza. Over 10 days in the U.S. this week and last, Kaplan will give 30 interviews on behalf of the IDF.
“Spanish-speaking people around the world don’t know that much about Israel, but they’re willing to listen and learn, but they want to hear it in Spanish, from a Spanish-speaking person,” he said.
Soibel, of Fuente Latina, said, “What we know is that journalists want access to information, and we can help them with that, connecting them to more than 50 very interesting Latin sources in Israel and around the world, and from the kind of institutions that Spanish-speaking media want to quote from.”
“We’ve developed something that really didn’t exist before in this space,” Soibel said. “What we realized is that when a piece of news hits, the best thing is to already have that ‘tight relationship,’ not just an ‘existing relationship.’ What we’ve done is institute a process to follow up with these journalists very frequently, to let them know how else we can help, with information, access, interviews, exclusives, that matter to them about stories they want to cover about Israel and the Middle East.”
In its first year, Fuente Latina has facilitated some 250 interviews for the Spanish-speaking press worldwide.
In his speech on the final day of the AIPAC convention, Israeli Prime Minister Netanayhu said he plans to visit Latin America in the near future.