Tuesday, June 15, 2010

JUMPing off on Israel's hasbara program

In the aftermath of Israel's recent Gaza Flotilla PR debacle, many pro-Israel supporters in the Diaspora have begun to question how and why the world seemingly turned against the Jewish state at the drop of a hat.

Readers of this blog, The CJN and other sources will have read up on how many Israeli ambassadors and consuls worldwide are now advocating shoring up Israel's "hasbara" program by confronting their enemies on a different battlefield: in the theater of public relations. The idea is that entities like Hamas, Hezbollah, various far-left NGO's, unions and academics, have been successfully vilifying Israel for more than a decade through words and distortions of the truth on the ground. And while Israel can generally disprove many of their "facts", the court of public opinion has already been swayed to the anti-Israel side. The best way to combat this, is to begin extolling Israel's virtues (whether as the lone democratic state in the Middle East, the creator and producer of medical technologies too varied to list here, or its academic community, to name just a few).

One of the leaders of this new hasbara paradigm (though he dislikes the term, as it literally translates into English as "explanation" and is reactive rather than proactive) is Israeli Consul General to Toronto and Western Canada, Amir Gissin. Suffice it to say, he and others of his ilk, are now firmly preaching that Israel and its supporters must ramp up their efforts in the fight to win back public opinion and not just try and endlessly explain why what it did on any given occasion was just and right.

Those interested in this subject - and in my opinion, you ALL should be - should check out Toronto's Jewish Urban Meeting Place's (JUMP) June 16 event: "Flotilla! The New Face of Anti-Semitism and What it Means for us." (1992 Yonge St.from 19:30 to 21:00). The event is free.

JUMP's guest speaker, Ruth Klein, director of advocacy for B'nai Brith, will speak on current trends in international treatment of and reference to Israel, its policies and governance and how it reflects a new wave in antisemitism. JUMP wants you to discover:

- How the "New" Antisemitism looks
- How to identify antisemetic language
- How to defend the need for fair and equal treatment of Israel and the Jews (even if you don't agree with government policies)

In related news, the Jewish TV Network (JTN) recently ran a piece on just this topic. Interviewed were Caroline Glick, editor of Israeli satirical news website Latma (and behind the video "We Con The World") and former IDF spokesperson Ruth Yaron. The conversation and debate was fascinating, with both women eventually agreeing on one major point - Israel's hasbara bureau has to wake up and change its tactics. I'd encourage you to click on the link above and watch. Very instructive.

And here's Latma's recent newscast. I like these guys.


josh said...

Problem with Israeli hasbara is that it is always apologetic and rarely convincing. The media never has a hard time to find an Israel or Jew to contradict it, or blatantly support the Arab line.

Blintzkrieg said...


Much of the time, it seems that way. But I think a new generation of hasbara pros are ready to change all that. They just need to break through the political clutter in Israel. It's coming, though not fast enough.