Getting to know Apco and its Israeli links

What is not denied is that Apco is the corporation chosen by Najib to push the 1Malaysia concept. This fact alone is bound to backfire, especially on a Muslim government who takes pains to portray itself as a friend of the displaced Palestinians.

Abdar Rahman Koya, Harakah Daily

The name Apco Worldwide has suddenly gained fame (or notoriety) in Malaysia after Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim drew comparison of the firm’s image-building campaign for its Malaysian client to a similar campaign by the Israeli government.

Anwar in his speech in the Dewan Rakyat on March 17 said that prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s 1Malaysia concept was actually an imitation of the ‘One Israel‘ concept of the Zionist regime, who is also a client of Apco.

Anwar’s revelation came in the wake of persistent attacks by a few BN MPs, whose attacks on the Opposition Leader since his return to Parliament have become almost an obsession. Chief among them are Khairy Jamaluddin and Mukhriz Mahathir, who have in the past indulged in name-calling and disruption of speeches whenever the former deputy prime minister took the stand. While Mukhriz has openly accused Anwar of sodomy, Khairy’s trademark attack is to link Anwar to hawkish characters in the US administration as well as accuse him of being a Zionist agent.

Thus, Anwar’s revelation about Apco has briefly put on the defensive those accusing him of being a Zionist agent. But not for long, as only a day later, Apco denied its involvement in the ‘One Israel’ concept. Khairy wasted no time brandishing Apco’s official statement in parliament, with Minister in the Prime Minister Department, Nazri Aziz, threatening to refer Anwar to the privileges committee.

What is not denied is that Apco is the corporation chosen by Najib to push the 1Malaysia concept. This fact alone is bound to backfire, especially on a Muslim government who takes pains to portray itself as a friend of the displaced Palestinians.

Apco’s business

Anwar’s remarks and Apco’s denial have triggered intense interest as to who Apco is. On its website, Apco, which is headquartered in Washington, describes itself as “one of the largest independently-owned communication consultancies” with offices throughout the world.

Margery Kraus, its CEO, founded the company in 1984. Among Apco’s speciality is to help its clients to “navigate the complex and often converging worlds of business, industry and finance, media, public opinion and society, and government and public policy.”

Besides Apco, Kraus also helped found and develop the Close Up Foundation, an educational foundation sponsored in part by the US Congress. But Kraus is also active in other organisations which are less educational in nature, such as chairing the advisory board of Group Menatep, a Russian holding company, and being involved in Teuza Fund, a venture capital fund publicly traded in Israel’s Tel Aviv stock exchange.

The Zionist connection

Kraus’s Israeli connection does not stop there. Within Apco, 50 individuals sit in its powerful International Advisory Council. They comprise of former politicians, business leaders and diplomats.

At least three among them, Itamar Rabinovich, Shimon Stein and Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, are individuals who are direcly linked to Israel and its notorious political and military institutions.

Rabinovich was the Israeli ambassador to the US, and acted as the Zionist regime’s chief negotiator with Syria during the era of Yitzhak Rabin. A former president of the Tel Aviv University, Rabinovich is also the chairman of the Israeli-based Dan David Foundation, named after a Romanian-born Jewish philanthropist who was active in the Zionist youth movement of the 1940s.

Shimon Stein served as the Israeli ambassador to Germany, and according to Apco’s website, follows “a long and distinguished career in the Israeli government and Foreign Service”. Later, he served as minister-counselor for political affairs for the Israeli embassy in Washington.

Doron Bergerbest-Eilon is the former head of the protection and security division and a senior security official of the Israeli Security Agency (ISA), a position equivalent to the rank of major general. In May 2005, Bergerbest-Eilon was awarded with The Director’s Recognition Award, the US Secret Service director’s highest commendation. Among his expertise listed are security and defence, with Singapore as one of his “regions of expertise”.

Building reputation

Describing further the International Advisory Council, Apco’s website states: “Members of this distinguished and dynamic group work hand-in-hand with APCO professionals to strengthen and deepen our existing expertise across a variety of sectors and services. Clients benefit from their high-level insights and rely on their informed, experienced opinions.”

Najib’s choice of Apco is understandable, especially after the BN had been at its wit’s end in trying to rebuild its image after the losses in the March 2008 general elections.

Najib was probably convinced with Kraus’s ability to help her clients turn things around. After all, in a 2008 interview with Public Affairs Asia, Kraus confidently declared:

“Some of the questions we help solve include: What steps need to be taken to build reputation? How does one develop the right allies to support the actions needed for success? What are the ‘hidden’ problems or opportunities that can distinguish one company from another? Getting this right is often the difference between success and failure.”

Ironically, far from solving any of the questions, Najib may find himself in a greater credibility crisis, thanks to Apco’s links to individuals who have been at the Zionist power centre. Nazri himself has admitted to this fact when calling for Anwar to be referred to the privileges committee, “It is a serious matter when a Muslim leader is associated with the Zionist,” he was quoted as saying.

But in all fairness, keeping true to its self-professed ability to “build reputation”, Najib cannot complain that Apco Worldwide has failed to deliver. The latest saga shows it has indeed delivered its promise of building a reputation for its client – this time for both Najib and the BN government.