As a Zionist who is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR Agency it is reassuring that the public relations (Hasbara) efforts of Israel is receiving more attention today than in years past – and perhaps it is one of the reasons that Israel’s PR efforts have improved tremendously over the last few years. All that said, Israel’s PR efforts are still in need of a major overhaul.
The newest “noise” comes via a just-released position paper“Israel Hasbara: Myths & Facts” courtesy of the Israeli left-wing uber-liberal think-tank, Molad. Summarizing the document’s conclusion, “..One cannot attribute Israel’s poor international status and image to insufficient and inefficient hasbara.” Fitting their agenda as a grantee of the New Israel Fund, they claim that Israel’s real media problems “… are the results of problematic policy, not flawed Hasbara of appropriate policy.” Basically, blame Netanyahu and the settlements.
Molad seems to have done a basic document-gathering job, but the paper is lacking in comparison, data or a study on the efficiencies of efforts. Details are provided on Israeli government bureaucratic efforts (i.e. the creation of a National Hasbara Forum), but little attention paid to results and efficiencies. No questions asked about why there aren’t outside public relations advisors – nor a comparison to PR in other conflict-driven regions (or a mention of the Arab nations who have hired at least 10 new public relations firms in 2012).
As an example on Page 32, the document states: “In 2010, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to increase the marketing budget intended for Israel branding. The full marketing budget went from 40 million NIS, of which previously only 10 million were designated for marketing and hasbara, to an unprecedented 100 million NIS, all of which was designated for marketing and hasbara.” How does that compare to Israel’s neighbors? How was it spent? How can one ascertain if that is a lot of not? (It’s not).
On page 45, one can read: “It would seem that in the domain of informal hasbara, anti-Israel public diplomacy network is very effective as it is almost entirely managed by informal bodies like Palestinian Diaspora and pro-Palestinian volunteer organizations. Yet, while this network implements informal elements of hasbara relatively thoroughly, it incompletely – if at all – implements the complementary components of formal hasbara.” Israel is not only fighting the Palestinian Arabs, but also fighting much of the Arab world and the many supporters of the Palestinian Arabs – should that not be incorporated prior to a conclusion of an analysis?
The document ascertains that due to efforts – like “training civilians to take part in hasbara messaging for its policies while abroad, or that sends groups of young citizens to advocate its position on campuses worldwide” that Israel is effective at PR. A PR expert would say these are amateur efforts, unfitting of a governments’ professional public relations experts. These amateur efforts show Israel is giving effort – Not that they are effective.
The head of Molad is Avner Inbar who co-founded the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement which The Jewish Agency has said “opposes Israel’s status as a Jewish homeland”, and promotes Anti-Zionism. The “research director” for the document is Assaf Sharon, and Director of Policy is Mikhael Manekin both of Breaking the Silence, an organization which the Government of Israel has labeled one “with a clear anti-government agenda”.
The document is leftist propaganda and basically can say: Blame Netanyahu and blame the settlements. Did Anti-Israel activities, media bias and other issues of PR begin and end with this Israeli government? Complete hogwash.