A special report from the Israel Foreign Ministry is no news flash to anyone who keeps abreast of “Brand Israel.” The Foreign Ministry labor union released a scathing report which criticized the Israeli government for neglecting PR in a major way. As the report stated “Israel has abandoned its PR efforts. Even as the leaders of the country are aware of the complicated position of Israel within the international community, and realize there is a need for change in everything that is related to the country’s public relations, on the ground, the situation is worse than ever.”
It is indeed absurd that the PR budget of Israel for the US is under $250K annually – they have no US PR firm and undoubtedly Israel’s public relations campaign remains on the defensive as they stand alone on the global media front. Israel’s spokespeople aren’t professionally media trained and there is such a wide variety of different negative implications to Israel’s neglect of the public relations front – from security to tourism to trade to Israeli’s self-confidence.
An inevitable part of war today is media – and Israel may have the military might, but surely not the media might. The union was accurate when they said: “In many of the countries (with which there are relations) no diplomatic activity can repair the foreign relations of Israel, and unfortunately, in the places where we are not, there are many representatives of Arab countries, and of the Palestinian Authority, presenting the situation in a one-sided manner,” and that the Foreign Ministry’s budget is not a priority. Indeed, while media is often Anti-Israel, even balance cannot be achieved when there is no one to tell Israel’s story.
Amazingly, the report shows that only Iran invests in foreign relations less than Israel and as Yaacov Livne of the Foreign Ministry labor union said “…Our diplomatic capabilities are in line with that of a third world country not interested relations.“
Israel’s lack of financial investment in PR is a tremendous strategic error. Israel’s foreign relations issues are not strictly about Anti-Semitism, inherent media bias or other issues –Israel doesn’t invest enough time or money, and indeed PR influences media and minds.