Jack Cohen

Inside Israel

I saw the documentary film “Israel Inside,” subtitled “how a small nation makes a big difference,” produced by Jerusalem Online and narrated by Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, a very engaging personality, who was previously a lecturer at Harvard University on subjects such as positive psychology. This is a very positive view of Israel, without any mention of politics or conflict. For those who are interested in or who are supportive of Israel this is a great movie, because it shows the many important contributions of Israelis and their positive attitudes towards life and innovation. In other words it is preaching to the converted.

For those who oppose or are wary of Israel this kind of “soft” propaganda (hasbara) will have little or no effect. For example, I wrote to a Jewish (left-wing) friend of mine in England about the IDF medical corps contribution in Haiti after the earthquake there, that was mentioned in the film and that saved many lives. His comment was “they did if for political reasons.” There is no persuading these type of people with this kind of information, because by default they discount any such data with their preconceived views and for them this is all pro-Israel propaganda that is selected so as to avoid the truly terrible aspects of Israel that includes mistreatment and occupation of the Palestinians.

The film is truly an excellent description of Israelis and why they are so productive. It covers all the good subjects, the electric cars of Better Place, drip irrigation, the mechanical legs that allow paraplegics to walk, etc. And it describes the so-called chutzpah and engagement in controversy of Israelis and their reduced fear of failure, that paralyzes such nations as Germany and Japan. But, no emphasis on positive contributions “to humanity” nor the persuasive talking heads of Allen Dershowitz or Nir Barkat will make any difference to those who we need to reach.

I suggest that in order to do that we need an entirely different approach. It is easy to pontificate, but here is an example. Take a quote from Jesus or the Bible such as “the lame shall walk”, make a 60 second video entitled with this quote. Show people who are bed-ridden and in wheel-chairs, then show one of them standing and walking and running in the London marathon, and then write in big letters, “product of Israel.” No talking heads, no persuasion that we are right or that we are real humanitarians, just the visceral impact of the fact. And I bet you could make ten of these for a fraction of the cost of the movie. What we need is for one of these to go “viral” on the internet. That’s the way to do it!

About the Author
Jack Cohen was born in London and has a PhD in Chemistry from Cambridge University. He moved to the US and worked at the National Cancer Inst. and then Georgetown Medical School. In 1996, he Moved to Israel and became Chief Scientist of the Sheba Medical Center. He retired in 2001 and worked as a Visiting Professor at Hebrew University Medical School for 5 years.