An advertising executive released a collection of breezy stories about Israeli inventors and their scientific breakthroughs.
In the real Mad Men universe of advertising, Marcella Rosen was a beacon of reason and leadership as the director of media worldwide and executive vice president of the legendary agency NW Ayer Inc., which was founded in Philadelphia by Francis Wayland Ayer in 1859. The New Yorker also founded her own agency.
However, as an avid supporter of Israel, she wanted to use her media clout and her skills of persuasion, as well as a team of astute writers and researchers, to draw attention to a side of Israel unknown to many Americans — that of a technological and scientific powerhouse.
Like all great innovators, she started small to test the waters, with the March 2010 launch of UntoldNews.org. This ambitious and user-friendly site reports on all things Israel beyond the ongoing Middle East peace process and political strife.
“Most of the media about Israel is negative, and what the average American knows about Israel comes from the coverage of the military activity and the religious issues,” says Rosen.
“I thought it was a shame that the general public had little idea about Israeli scientific ventures that have improved their lives, or their humanitarian acts such as sending aid to 55 countries when needed.”
She continues: “It is vital that if we want to maintain public support for Israel’s future and its relationship with the United States that we tell the public about some of Israel’s positives which are there — and phenomenal at that.” How to counter a bad image? “While our enemies do a superb job of maligning us and Israel,” she notes, “there needed to be something that effectively and proactively gives positive coverage.”
Beyond UntoldNews.org, the savvy Rosen has also initiated an aggressive Facebook campaign that posts Monday to Friday, 52 weeks a year, on inventions and scientific breakthroughs coming out of Israel.
However, given that many of these inventions touch people on a monumental, worldwide basis — from the humble computer flash drive to the removal of breast tumors through freezing to the desalination of ocean water — she needed a way to propel word of mouth without saying too much of a mouthful for those who may be less scientifically inclined.
The solution: Tiny Dynamo: How One of the World’s Smallest Countries Is Producing Some of Our Most Important Inventions is a nifty invention in itself. The slender, eye-catching volume is packed with 21 breezy stories about different inventions and the behind-the-scenes stories of some of the inventors.
However, when putting the book together, Rosen was savvy enough to know that she didn’t want Jewish and non-Jewish readers to judge the book by its cover.
“You’ll notice the front cover very deliberately does not mention ‘Israel’ though the back cover does,” Rosen points out.
“As ‘Israel’ is a hot-button word for some, I wanted to be sure anybody interested in the scientific elements of the book would look at it for the science. Also, we deliberately composed the text to be an easy read. The intent is not to show how scientific we are but to get the information out there by translating complicated scientific scenarios into clear statements about the inventions’ impact.”
One thing that deeply concerns Rosen is keeping younger generations of Jews interested and vested in Israel’s future. On one level, she thinks of the book as an opportunity to provide Jewish Americans with a set of tools that will enable them to win any debate set forth by an Israeli detractor by calling attention to all of the inventions that have or could benefit mankind as a whole.
“I have a grandson who had a Bar Mitzvah this year, and he read the book, of course, because I am his Grandma,” she muses. “While he agreed it was a wonderful Bar Mitzvah gift,” he saw its potential elsewhere as well.
Grandma agreed: “We could see this easily being used in classrooms. It can also be a useful tool for those who are pro-Israel who may find themselves in a debate with somebody not pro-Israeli.”
As new scientific developments in Israel surface every day, Rosen also foresees subsequent books and reprints in other languages.
“My target right now is the U.S., which is a big test market,” she says. “We have many more inventions coming out of Israel that would fill many more books.”
Rosen stresses that although many Western countries have scientific breakthroughs and inventions they can be proud of, in recent years Israel has had as many inventions as all of Europe combined.
The timeline in the back of the book lists a whopping 68 important inventions since 1948.
The author notes she has a fondness for the airport security invention detailed in the book that uses psychology and body function to weed out potential terrorists.