Thursday, June 14, 2012

#IsraelLoves And The Shortcomings Of Hasbara

Yesterday's conference call with Avi Mayer hosted by The Israel Project (TIP) is an example of the shortcomings of contemporary Israeli public relations, or hasbara.  For his part, Mayer is a respected pro-Israel Twitter user, even by those outside the pro-Israel community.  He boasts 4,754 followers (including this blogger) and his comments yesterday were intended largely to encourage pro-Israel activists to use social media.

In particular, TIP touted Mayer's role in the #IsraelLoves campaign in which pro-Israel activists added the text "#IsraelLoves" to their tweets as a search tag which other users on Twitter could find, and which Twitter would recognize as a trending topic. TIP wrote:

"In December 2011, following the appearance of an orchestrated wave of anti-Israel sentiment, Avi initiated the #IsraelLoves campaign, encouraging social media users to share positive messages about Israel utilizing the popular social media platform Twitter." 

Overall, the #IsraelLoves campaign was an example of good public relations.  Responding to the #IsraelHates hashtag which was trending globally, Mr. Mayer led the pro-Israel community in responding with a concise and positive message which was well formulated to go viral.  While some of the tweets using the hashtag were hijacks (ie #IsraelLoves apartheid, or #IsraelLoves occupation), the #IsraelLoves campaign was a powerful one for which Mayer deserves credit.

But The Israel Project summarized the success of the campaign as follows:

"Participants in the campaign ultimately included Israeli government ministers and officials, Jewish organizational leaders, members of Knesset, celebrities, IDF officers, Jewish students, Israeli diplomatic missions and countless others."

That is to say, the hashtag was successful because it created a unified response to anti-Israel messages in which pro-Israel supporters around the world were joined together in advocacy on behalf of the Jewish State.

The problem is this: that metric of success has everything to do with the unity of the pro-Israel community.  And nothing to do with swaying general public attitudes towards Israel.

Hasbara efforts are always intended to shore up support for Israel.  However, creating a hasbara message often involves negotiating the cleavages in the pro-Israel community, even within the more traditional wing from which hasbara tends to originate.  The pro-Israel community is hardly alone in being an advocacy group with cleavages.  However, crafting a hasbara message often involves negotiating these cleavages, especially since the alternative is to have no message at all.

But the pitfall of this consensus building is that it creates a hasbara message which is a statement of the median pro-Israel view, rather than a message which is likely to sway reconcilable audiences to support Israel.  Hasbara has become about building consensus in the pro-Israel community rather than expanding it.  It reinforces the pro-Israel audience's self confidence and aggravates the pro-Palestinian audience, but does little to sway neutral audiences Israel's way.  Hasbara has become a series of messages preaching to the choir rather than trying to convince those with a decent voice to join.

The Israel Project is in no way alone in defining success by unity rather than efficacy.  Furthermore, consensus (or equilibrium) is a pre-requisite of any number of decisions within institutions.  But when pro-Israel organizations focus too much on a consensus-based approach to messaging, they sometimes lose sight of what ought to be the key metric of success: whether the message makes people more supportive of Israel.

One way to measure efficacy would be to conduct flash polls before and after a hasbara campaign to measure whether a given tactic improved Israel's image in the public eye.  But while many pro-Israel organizations point to consensus-building in the pro-Israel community as proof of their efficacy, very few offer quantitative evidence that their brand of hasbara has a significant effect on pro-Israel attitudes.  This is not because pro-Israel organizations are myopic or don't care about being effective.  Such measurements are incredibly difficult to obtain, especially for organic campaigns like #IsraelLoves.  However, in the absence of such data, pro-Israel donors are investing money and pro-Israel activists are investing time into a hasbara strategy which has not been demonstrated, in any systematic way, to work.

Unity has its place in movements, and the pro-Israel movement is no exception.  However, when the form of the movement begins to overshadow its purpose, it is unsurprising when it does not achieve its desired outcomes.  A renewed focus on efficacy-based approaches is the first step to properly resourcing the members of the pro-Israel community who have dedicated their careers to the defense and promotion of the Jewish State.


  1. شركة نقل عفش
    اهم شركات مكافحة حشرات بالخبر كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذلك شركة رش حشرات بالدمام ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش واثاث


  2. شركة نقل عفش بالرياض وجدة والدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام