Monday, February 22, 2010

Israel's smiling PR drive

Israeli citizens are being recruited to boost the country's image abroad – but the campaign amounts to papering over cracks

Seth Freedman, Monday 22 February 2010

"Israel's latest conscripts in the fight to improve the country's image have been unveiled: ordinary Israeli citizens. Armed only with a government-issued hasbara pamphlet and a winning smile, they will be sent to wage war with their detractors, in an effort to present Israel as a benign, democratic utopia whose only achilles heel is poor public relations.....

It is no surprise that Israel's leaders want to improve the country's image without having to take concrete measures in the form of concessions to the Palestinians. Likewise, it is not unusual that the same politicians seek to blame others for "misunderstanding" the situation rather than admitting that their own policies are highly questionable and unethical. However, to rope ordinary Israelis in by repeatedly telling them that anti-Israel sentiment abroad is irrational and baseless is both a futile and dishonest path to tread.

Israel's image problem will only disappear when the core crimes committed in the name of the state cease, and the Palestinians are dealt with equitably. The Israeli public should demand their government spend all its energy on such fundamental affairs of state rather than worry about how many foreigners know that Maccabi Tel Aviv won the Euroleague in 1977. Hasbara is no substitute for adherence to justice and basic human rights."

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