At the young age of 34, Anat Ben Yosef is a Latina, Israeli Jewish woman who landed a role as the Israel Tourism Consul to the Western Region of the United States. The daughter of Argentinian parents who immigrated to Israel, the L.A.-based professional oversees everything from travel trade to PR, and connecting with the Latino entertainment industry.
“Our mission at the end of the day is getting as many Americans to visit Israel every year, every month,” says Anat. According to her statistics, out of 3.6 million people who travel to the Middle Eastern country, 800,000 (or 20%) are from North America. How does Ben Yosef get travelers to Israel? It’s a daily combination of phone calls; emails; meetings; working with travel companies; and connecting with everyone from tour operators, to the media, to organizations. “It’s a 24/7 type of day,” Anat admits. “Because we are an international government, and my headquarters are actually located in Jerusalem.”
Before working at the Israel Ministry of Tourism, Anat served in the Israeli Defense Forces’ Intelligence Corps, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, Government and Communication from Tel Aviv University. In addition to that degree, she also completed her MBA in Marketing and Advertising from Ono Academic College, and completed additional graduate work in the field of North American Studies at the University of Cologne, Germany.
In 2010, she joined the Ministry of Tourism, after completing their cadet course. Anat then spent four years with the marketing department of the ministry’s Jerusalem headquarters, before attaining her current post in Los Angeles.
Working out of L.A. has given Anat the chance to use her fluent Spanish in a professional setting (she is also fluent in Hebrew and, of course, English). She admits that speaking the language opens your mind to other cultures. “It’s a great gift…my parents gave me, allowing me to grow up with those two cultures. Further down the road it helped me…in my life, and my career.”
Ben Yosef emphasizes that this mixture of cultures isn’t unique to Israel, and is, in fact, what makes the country so worth visiting. “Israel is a real melting pot,” she explains. “Most of the families I knew growing up, all of them came from different origins, different parts of the world. So being someone who grew up bilingual, Spanish and Hebrew, definitely makes sense. It’s [a] very heterogenic society.”
She likens the warmth and welcoming nature of the Israeli people to Latino culture, and mentioned that several Latino celebrities, including Mario Lopez, William Levy, Maluma, and Carlos Vives have recently visited the country.
Other reasons Anat shares for visiting Israel include the world-famous cuisine and wine, blend of history and modernity, the beach, the LGBT and female-friendly atmosphere, and the fact that it is the Holy Land. “It’s not just tourism,” she explains. “It’s a journey, it’s a bucket list destination. It’s something that changes you internally. The energy that this place has, I really can’t compare it to anywhere else in the world.”
So how does Anat Ben Yosef feel being a Latina in charge of showing Israel to the world? “I find [that] myself in the U.S., you know, it’s not obvious that I’m Jewish, and it’s not obvious that I have [a] Hispanic, Latina background. So it gives me a lot of pride. I think that I’m here wearing a lot of hats,” she shares. “There are eight million Israelis behind me. I’m their face. It just makes me very proud of what I am, of who I am, and where I’m at.”