The head of marketing seems to have taken a holiday and the PR department is out to lunch. Just like a previous article on here said, Hasbara is constantly on the back foot, beaten at every point by the well-oiled machines of Arab propaganda. Yet, here I sit, typing out words that are more than likely going to be yet another sermon to the choir, yet more preaching to the converted. Delusion has taken hold and hopes that someone will listen and prove that maybe I’m not all that deluded after all.
It’s time we put our best foot forwards, rather than stand with shields raised. As yet another football (soccer to those of you from anywhere else in the world that isn’t the UK) competition is about to kick off, maybe it’s time that instead of playing a steadfast defence, it’s time that our forwards took the lead role in the next act of this play.
What is it that convinces hundreds of people every year to pack up their lives, wrap their memories in seas of bubble wrap and cardboard, and board planes to Israel to start their lives afresh? It sure isn’t for an improved standard of living and the chance of a quick buck. The old joke puts paid to that: How do you make a small fortune in Israel? Make Aliya with a large one. The only thing cheaper here than in the UK is kosher meat. Funny that.
What is it that makes so many Israelis who have gone to sample the so-called greener grass of anywhere but here, including my family and me, come back again?
Australians amongst you will remember the QANTAS ads – a children’s choir visits some of the world’s most famous sites, singing a beautiful song about New York and Rio and Old London Town. But as the sun sets over the horizon, a QANTAS plane appears and the crunch line of the song plays: “I still call Australia home.” To Aussies, it’s beautiful and it’s true.
I call Israel home. Millions of people do. Many, many of those weren’t born here. I wasn’t, although I did spend a good chunk of my childhood here. Many hundreds of thousands in today’s Israel came here at some stage of their lives because they and their families felt that it was the right thing to do, because there was some type of calling that spoke to them.
It’s precisely that calling that needs to be tapped into and used by the hapless teams of PR and marketing and Hasbara. Some of it is easy to express, some of it less so.
There is a sense here that rather than learning about history, one can live it, experience it, even create it. Walking in the footsteps of the great forefathers of our nation, be it the Biblical nation or the modern one, literally following the trails they walked, is an experience like no other. We need to sell that.
There is a beauty here that can only seen and experienced, not read in a textbook. Irrespective of which religion you choose to follow. That beauty is cared for and protected, cherished and encouraged like never before.
There is pride in this country that we are so good at mixing our ancient faith and modern culture – and rather than being scared of doing so, we should embrace it and market it.
No other nation in the world has gone from almost desolate wasteland to a massive hub of technology, science, healthcare and modernity in such a short space of time. Ever. We need to promote this.
It’s not perfect. I may be overly positive in my outlook, but I’m not naive. Of course there are obstacles, both within our society and from outside. We are in a constant state of threat and war, but that is not of our doing. We need to make sure that the world knows that. The hand of peace has been outstretched by Israel so many times, only to be rejected in favour of terrorism and the eternal hope of our total destruction.
Make no mistake – on this day in 1967 Israel may well have taken control of Judea and Samaria, including, of course, the eastern part of Jerusalem – but to claim that that was the start of the problem and is the ongoing hurdle in any future peace settlement is a nonsense. After all, the PLO, the very organisation that represents a large percentage of the Arabs who live in those areas and still calls for Israel’s destruction (either overtly or covertly, depending on its audience) has existed since 1964.
It’s time that we fight back; not from a position of weakness, but from a position of strength. Find all the beautiful things about Israel and market them. Rediscover the positives and bring them to the fore, rather than concentrating on back-pedaling from the negatives.
It’s time that the Government truly picked up the gauntlet and marched at the front of the rag-tag army of small organisations who are already trying their hardest. I don’t belittle anything that they do, not for a second, but I do feel that the lead should be taken by those in power, that we should be fighting this battle as a nation, not just as inspired individuals. They have a wonderful resource at their fingertips – a proud nation. A nation that can speak to almost every other country in the world in their own native tongue and get the message across.
Lyndon B Johnson was right: “The ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds of the people who actually live out there.”
Those people are not just our people, they are the people who read the news, who take an interest, who want to understand, but who seem to be subjected to too much propaganda and not enough education.
It’s time that we turned that around.