Jerusalem's Old City 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
“Seeing is believing” is the philosophy behind a Foreign Ministry proposal to
bring 3,000 North American non- Jewish campus influentials to Israel to show
them the country and combat what ministry director-general for public diplomacy
Gideon Meir called the “industry of lies” against the country.
recently presented the NIS 50 million proposal to the Finance Ministry. The plan
would move the government wholesale into the sphere of bringing opinion-makers
and influentials to Israel, a role currently played on a smaller scale by
various American Jewish organizations.
The idea, Meir said, was to bring
to Israel college students who had been pinpointed as future leaders and
opinion-makers, and give them a first-hand look at the country.
Foreign Ministry does bring over groups, mostly journalists, Meir said it was
just a drop in the ocean compared to what was being proposed now.
similar proposal is in the works to bring over European non-Jewish
The plan was approved by the Foreign Ministry. Meir said
the idea was for the government to partner with Jewish philanthropists who would
help defray the costs.
“I’m not talking about propaganda,” he said. “I
just want them to see things with their own eyes.”
He said that the
groups would be given the opportunity to meet Palestinians.
afraid of that,” Meir said. “I believe that our cause is just.”
was to combat what Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky termed the 3Ds – the
demonization, double standard and deligitimization of Israel – with 3Es:
education, engagement and exposure, Meir said.
The plan was especially
pertinent now, he added, at a time when Israel’s “stock internationally is on
Meir said the program was an effort to move into areas
beyond traditional hasbara, or public diplomacy.
“We don’t need to
explain, or apologize, but become more proactive and assertive,” he said, adding
that he hoped to widen the lens and give the visitors a wider context of Israel
beyond what they were provided in the media.