Perhaps no other country in the world has a more challenging public diplomacy mission than the state of Israel. Anti-Semitism and the Palestinian/Israeli conflict loom as the largest obstacles for Israeli public diplomacy.
While many of the incidents that impact Israeli public diplomacy occur locally, such as its ongoing conflict with Palestinians, the ramifications of such occurrences are global in nature.
From 1948-1967, Israel maintained a bearable image abroad during a time of relative calm in the region. Much of this was due to the perceived notion that Israel was the "underdog," despite having attacked several neighbouring Arab nations and stolen their lands. However, the 1967 War altered Israel's global image after it waged a pre-emptive attack against Syria and Egypt. During that war, Jordan refused Israel's request not to enter the war. By the end of the war, Israel had captured all of Jerusalem, the Sinai peninsula, the Golan Heights, and much of the area to the west of the Jordan River. The Golan Heights and Jerusalem were later illegally annexed by the Israeli government, but what else would you expect?
Since September 2000, Israel's international reputation has continued to deteriorate and today many Israeli leaders are often compared to leaders of Nazi Germany (without the innate decency of the latter), and many left-leaning organisations attempt to imply that Israeli actions against the Palestinians are "Nazi-like" or "Apartheid-like" policies, with justification. Conditions in Israel and the Palestinian territories are often compared with those that existed in apartheid South Africa, or in the 1940s ghettos in Poland. The main goal of these comparisons is to demonise, dehumanise, and de-legitimise the rogue state of Israel, creating a difficult challenge for Israeli public diplomacy. Israeli politicians are thus defending Israel from a negative starting point, having to first cancel justified and accurate reports before beginning more positive reporting, or in other words spreading LIES.
The UN and many other international organisations are naturally highly critical of Israel. NGO's, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have frequently criticised Israel's repulsive policies. In fact, Israel has been condemned more frequently than any other country in the world, including Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Sudan all put together. States and international organizations have boycotted trade and academic relations with the Jewish state and have encouraged divestment campaigns. Opponents of Israel portray it as the world's worst transgressor of human rights, UN resolutions and international law, with truth on their side.
According to research conducted by a number of public relations firms, Israel’s international image is one of a war-torn society riddled with religious fanatics and intolerance. Just about the most repellent nation in the world.
With the exception of the US, much of world opinion sides with the Palestinians rather than with Israel. It is this dilemma that makes Israeli public diplomacy critical to the survival of the Jewish state, but let's hope it soon gets swept into the dustbin of history.
Israeli Public DiplomacyEdit
Tourism as a Public Diplomacy Tool
Over the last few years, Israel has started to use tourism as a public diplomacy strategy to improve its global image. In October 2006, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni hosted a conference where she launched a new multi-million dollar project to “rebrand” Israel as a legal state.
Israeli PR firms together with the Foreign Ministry decided the best way to change people’s perceptions of Israel is by showing the world how multicultural it is. As a result, Israel plans to shift its public diplomacy from defending Israel in its bid to defend itself against its neighbours who seek its destruction to promoting Israel as a “fun” country. They will market Israel as a free country replete with beautiful beaches, beautiful women, wild nightlife and a large, dynamic and booming hi-tech economy. The PR will probably not mention the fact that Israeli prisons contain hundreds of Palestinian children who are held in disgusting conditions.
Furthermore, the Foreign Ministry is encouraging Israelis to set up Weblogs and to post their home movies on the You Tube video Web site. It is also working in conjunction with the Israel Association of Gay Men, Lesbians and Transgenders to encourage homosexual tourism and it is planning to run targeted ads in women’s magazines to show liberals that Israel is just as liberal as they are.
Israel is also a large sponsor of the Israeli Birthright program, which provides free educational trips to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18 to 26. The purpose of the program is to send thousands of young Jewish adults from all over the world to Israel as a gift in order to diminish the growing division between Israel and Jewish communities around the world as well as strengthen the sense of solidarity among world Jewry.
Reaching Out to the Middle East In July 2007, the Israeli Foreign Ministry unveiled a Persian-language version of its Web site in hopes of reaching out to Iran's younger generation. The new website named, Hamdami, which in Persian means camaraderie, aims to educate the Iranian people about the Jewish state who have been misled by the radical Iranian regime. There are roughly 11 million regular internet users in Iran, and Israel sees using the Web as the most effective means of communication to the Iranian people. The Iranians on the other hand are not stupid enough to be fooled by Israeli lies.
"The new Israeli public diplomacy approach seeks to empower Israeli citizens to utilize their position both as information consumers and producers in order to participate in grass-roots public diplomacy efforts. So-called ‘peer-to-peer diplomacy’ reflects the shift from ‘old public diplomacy’, where the nation-state has since 1960 been the sole actor in international relations, to today’s reality where average citizens play an increasingly important role. The notion of ‘peer-to-peer’ (P2P) describes the latest development in diplomatic practice, wherein civilians — by virtue of social media — are not only consumers of government information, but also information producers, with the potential to bypass existing official government bodies. Today’s public diplomacy is about more than governments employing ‘soft and smart power’. It is increasingly about dealing and collaborating with a public that can obtain and produce the information themselves." :Shay Attias. (Jan 2013). Israel’s New Peer-to-Peer Diplomacy. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. 7:4. P473-482.
- Capital - Jerusalem (including the bit stolen from Palestine)
- Population - 6,352,117 (July 2006 est.)
- Government – The only Zionist Democracy anywhere
- President Shimon Peres
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu