The Man Behind the Camera

Michael Rader wants you to be informed on Middle East issues

Published in 2007 Massachusetts Rising Stars — May 2007

When Michael Rader first stepped on Israeli soil as part of a college trip in the early 1990s, the connection was immediate.

“When you arrive and are immersed in the culture, for a Jewish person you feel a sense of belonging,” says the intellectual property attorney for Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks. “You can have an attachment to America, and still feel like you belong in some way to Israel.”

Rader returned to Israel in 1996, where he worked for a patent firm, Sanford T. Colb & Co., while studying at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During his year in the country, he was determined to learn as much about Israeli life as possible and worked hard to learn Hebrew.

“I tried my best not to hang around people who could speak English,” Rader says with a laugh, adding that it was a difficult task considering the large number of Israelis who speak it. “But it was important to carry on our national language.”

When Rader came back to Boston, he vowed not to lose his sense of connection with Israel and Middle Eastern affairs. That’s why he’s taken a very active role in a number of advocacy groups, including the Lawyers Committee for Democracy in the Middle East––which he co-founded––and the Committee forAccuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). The former publishes articles and op-eds about the importance of fostering democratic rights in the Middle East.

“It is so difficult to promote human rights in these regions, especially for women and with Islamic law,” says Rader, whose op-eds have appeared in the Globe. “As for democracy, we have core values given to us by the Constitution. In other countries, it is not enough to elect a leader. If the rest of the values are not in the package, it is an empty shell of a democracy.”

CAMERA “is a non-partisan media watchdog devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East, without taking any position on political issues,” he says.

“If someone attacks the U.S., they are a terrorist; if they attack Israel, they are a militant,” Rader says of the discrepancies in language that tend to catch CAMERA’s attention. “It’s about presenting a balanced viewpoint—views from both sides of the conflict.”

Though Rader says it’s important for Americans to understand conflicts in the Middle East, he acknowledges that most people are under-informed on the subject matter. “It’s hard to make accurate judgments when you haven’t been to a place,” he concedes. “You need a sense of geography, a sense of culture—the different people and different religions.”

So Rader hopes groups such as the Lawyer’s Committee and CAMERA can improve on balancing the information Americans receive.

“The different organizations are about the dissemination of information,” he says. “A person getting their information through the media is getting a shallow view. And that is unfortunate.”

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