Know More About Palestine

Wednesday March 10, 2010 8:40 PM (EST+7)
Israel punks itself

Read more: Hasbara, public relations, Israel pr

RAMALLAH,  Mar. 10 (JMCC) - As the government of Israel increasingly finds itself under fire from critics and its international reputation taking a turn for the worst, the government has launched a new PR campaign aimed at diverting attention away from the politics and war that seem to define it. The problem is such tactics may miss the real problems behind Israel's negative image.

The past year has brought many public-diplomacy own goals for Israel -- refusing to cooperate with a UN commission, deliberately humiliating the ambassador of a major ally, and snubbing a US congressional delegation, for instance. But rather than addressing the problems underlying Israel's lack of popularity abroad -- the stagnated conflict with the Palestinians, and especially the brutal war waged on Gaza last winter -- the government has gone for diversion, with a series of flashy (and, in the case above, idiotic) global ad campaigns.

Such ads have a lot more to say about Israel's insecurities -- e.g., its small size -- than the world's concerns. Another advertisement shows a camel ambling across a sandy vista, with a narrator deadpanning in English, The camel is a typical Israeli animal, used by the Israelis to travel from place to place in the desert where they live. Don't quite get the joke? It sends up Israelis' concern that foreigners perceive them to be backward and Oriental.

There's hardly an argument that the ads are falling flat with international audiences. It increasingly seems Israel is trying to persuade not foreigners, but itself. In March 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu created a ministry of public diplomacy (in Hebrew, hasbara). Last week, it launched a website called Masbirim, or Explainers, offering Israelis talking points to chat up foreigners when traveling overseas. (The information on the website is also available in booklet form.)

Read the full article at Foreign







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