Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hasbara Site Goes English

Israel today unveiled it's English Hasbara Site (http://masbirim.gov.il/eng/b_iadaw.html), demonstrating yet again that Israel is much better at reaching an audience than communicating with them.

The "Jewish Settlement" page is a key example. The page reads like a legal brief rather than a well-written public relations piece. Not to mention that it is rife with misrepresentations and gives Israel supporters advice like "When people tell you that uprooting Arab towns within the Green Line is a violation of human rights, ask how uprooting Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria values human rights."*

Again Israel's Hasbara suffers from the problem of self-reassurance rather than resonance with the moderate center. Yelling 2 + 2 = 5 louder doesn't make it more true, yet that is essentially what Israel is doing. Reaching a wider audience is a great first step, but it must be followed by a careful consideration of the message. Specifically, Israel must reclaim the rhetoric of human rights, and demonstrate a commitment to liberal values by showing, not telling.

*This is a bad strategy because it
a) Ignores the question and throws up a blatant smokescreen instead.
b) Fails to resonate with those asking about Arab rights.
c) Is tangential to the settlement issue, which is largely about control of land rather than uprooting Arab villages.
d) Conflates Jewish with Israeli.
e) Is answerable. Withdrawing from settlements values human rights by affirming the Palestinian need for national self-actualization which is a prerequisite for the economic and political development which fosters human rights. In an interview you'd say, "It values human rights by fostering Palestinian self-determination and moving forward from the status quo in which so many rights, both Israel and Palestinian, are violated every day."

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