What Israel can learn from the Eurovision song contest

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June 3, 2015 15:11

Israeli's PR focus on the peace process highlights the country’s failures rather than its successes; and people dislike failures.




Nadav Guedj representing Israel performs during a dress rehearsal

Nadav Guedj representing Israel performs during a dress rehearsal for the second semifinal of the upcoming 60th annual Eurovision Song Contest in Vienna. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Commenting last week on Israel’s surprising ninth-place Eurovision finish, achieved thanks to votes from millions of usually anti-Israel Europeans, Avshalom Halutz of Haaretz wrote sarcastically that the dramatic improvement over previous results “seems to validate Israel’s decision...to send its carefree ‘Golden Boy’ party anthem to Eurovision, after years of trying in vain to find favor with the Europeans with apologetic and hypocritical songs about peace and tolerance, and failed gimmicks like candlelight or a duet between a Jewish and an Arab singer.” Despite being an exaggeration, there’s something to what he says. And it’s something that goes to the heart of what’s wrong with Israel’s public diplomacy effort.

Because while most of Israel’s Eurovision entries don’t actually focus on peace (aside from the one Jewish-Arab duet Halutz mentioned), its real-world public diplomacy definitely does. Indeed, public relations experts have told us for years that only by constantly stressing Israel’s desire for peace can it possibly win Western hearts. Yet somehow, this “expert” strategy keeps failing – and this failure shouldn’t actually surprise anyone.

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