When Leah Soibel left her post at the Jerusalem Fund in Tel Aviv in 2012, she knew her next adventure had to include her two passions: pro-Israel advocacy and Spanish-speaking media.
âI looked around and saw that the Spanish-language media basically ignored Israel and the Jewish community,â Soibel said. âTheir coverage of Israel and Jewish issues was not necessarily negative, it was simply non-existent. At the same time, however, I saw anti-Israel forces making an effort to reach out to them. I knew the Latino community had to hear from both sides.
It was at this time that the Latina born in Saint-Louis founded the non-profit association Fuente Latina (Latin source). After creating the association in Tel Aviv, she moved to Miami in 2018 to develop it. She chose Miami because it’s the crossroads between the United States and Latin America, and it’s a major Spanish-speaking media center with a high concentration of Hispanic media influencers.
âEleven percent of the entire American Jewish community identify as Latino. It is a population that cannot be ignored. – Lea Soibel
âI knew right away that we also needed a strong presence in Los Angeles, and thanks to the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles, we were able to open our second US office in Los Angeles,â said Soibel, founder and CEO of Fuente Latina. âMore Latinos live in Los Angeles County (4.9 million) than any other ethnic group. Additionally, Los Angeles County is home to America’s second largest Jewish community (530,000). Eleven percent of the total American Jewish community identify as Latino. It is a population that cannot be ignored.
Today, the association has offices in Miami, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, Mexico City and Madrid. Its mission is to engage the Spanish-speaking media by providing them with 24/7 content to cover local stories about Israel and the Jewish community in a positive and accurate way.
Over the past nine years, Soibel said Fuente Latina has facilitated over 6,000 interviews resulting in over 65,000 accurate news articles, published over 200 opinion pieces in major Spanish-language media and published over of 350 videos / visual content. She estimated that this work has informed more than 800 million Latinx news consumers around the world. His accolades include two TV Emmy awards and several nominations for coverage of major American Hispanic networks and an Associated Press Broadcasters Award.
According to Soibel, engaging the Spanish-speaking media about Israel and Jewish issues is crucial, because âmany issues of importance to the Latinx community resonate with the Jewish community and vice versa. Additionally, Israel and the Jewish community must ensure that the huge Latinx community has a clear understanding of the facts when forming opinions about the Jewish community. They don’t understand that with the mainstream media. Worse yet, they are receiving misinformation, fueled by anti-Jewish forces. “
Soibel said that during the Operation Guardians of the Wall conflict in the spring of 2021, Daniella Schwartz, media associate of Fuente Latina in Los Angeles, facilitated interviews and provided facts to local Spanish-speaking media to ensure that they were covering recent anti-Semitism in Los Angeles. His work has resulted in several balanced reports on the Telemundo 52 network on the anti-Semitic attack on Sushi Fumi and coverage on Univision, the country’s most watched Spanish-language television network.
Fuente Latina also brings journalists to Israel so that they can see Israel up close and up. To date, they have brought in 330 journalists from 12 countries (10 from Los Angeles).
Soibel said she thinks it is important for people to know that Fuente Latina is a JOC (Jew of Color) organization run by women. Six of the eight board members and 10 staff members are Hispanic Americans, from Mexico, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Argentina and Spain, reflecting the diverse Latinx populations they serve. .
The nonprofit seems to have carved out a niche for itself that has not been filled. âWe are a non-partisan, non-profit organization,â Soibel said. âOur only goal is to provide the facts to the large and growing Hispanic population so that they can make informed decisions regarding Israel and the Jewish people. “