Here’s a “didja know”: Did you know that Israeli cows are the world’s champs in
milk production? Amazing but true: Israeli cows, on average, yield about 12,000
liters of milk a year, compared to an average of 6,000 in the US and the UK, and
between 3,000 and 4,000 in India and China. Both the latter countries, by the
way, are currently experiencing record drought conditions, and they can use all
the help they can get in production of any kind of food.
prowess is acknowledged the world over – and extolled by Israelis, who are proud
of their nation’s accomplishments. But among many Israelis, especially in the
media, it’s just as fashionable to pan Israel’s efforts to tell its
When it comes to hasbara
, it seems that Israel can do no right,
many in the local media believe. Of course, that could be because those doing
the panning don’t believe in what their country is doing. But you can see the
same sentiments even among those who believe that Israel does have a legitimate
story to tell.
Israel isn’t only about “the conflict”; there are lots of
sides to Israel’s story – like those cows. And that’s why Deputy Foreign
Minister Danny Ayalon several weeks ago announced a new program, whereby Israeli
hi-tech folk will help spread Israel’s point of view on a variety of
Speaking at a hi-tech conference sponsored by the Luzzato Group
several weeks ago, Ayalon urged hi-tech workers who travel abroad to get
involved with hasbara. Those who volunteer, he said, would be given the
appropriate information on “hot-button” issues, talking points, giving
interviews in the media and how to help improve Israel’s image.
people are “high-quality individuals who can be an intellectual resource who are
found at the main crossroads of society,” Ayalon said, and they could be an
excellent hasbara resource for Israel.
Whether it’s a valid idea, it’s no
mystery where the cynicism displayed by the Israeli media to ideas like Ayalon’s
(this certainly isn’t the first time such a campaign has been tried) comes
As a top Foreign Ministry official, one assumes that Ayalon is
referring to political hasbara, and considering how there are as many political
points of view as there are Israelis, it’s hard to imaging corralling too many
hi-tech people into a program like this.
But like I said, Israel’s story
– and the hasbara it could generate – is more than just the day-to-day politics
we usually think of, and hi-tech could play a big role in improving Israel’s
Here’s an example: How about a technology that allows you to
recharge batteries for devices – using solar power? Used batteries are among the
most difficult items to dispose of, and when they are disposed of improperly,
they can wreak havoc on the environment. Being able to recharge batteries
using solar energy would be a great boon to the environment – as well as to
consumers who are looking to save money.
Israel’s Sol-chip is developing
just such a technology; would that make a great piece of hasbara.
about a technology that ensures that blood transfusions are done in a safe,
efficient manner, greatly reducing the possibility of human error? The system
identifies and verifies the patient, infusion, dose and flow rate, and it
mechanically prevents infusion and transfusion errors when drugs and patients
are mismatched, increasing patient safety – and helping reduce what many doctors
believe to be a not uncommon and often fatal problem. Wouldn’t that make
Israel “look good,” as a country where technology is being developed to help
Israel’s ProIV is responsible for developing that
It’s the work done by these kinds of startups that has
already (think ICQ, Checkpoint, etc.) put Israel on the map and will continue to
do so. The work being done by startups like these should be at the heart of
Israel’s hasbara efforts.
Those last two companies, by the way, are
participating in the “road show” I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Sponsored
by Israel’s Trendlines Group (www.trendlines.com), the project features efforts
by 13 Israeli startups to raise money from investors in four cities in the US to
advance their technology. The trip, which takes place this week (and
which I am accompanying), has generated a great deal of interest among angels
and venture-capital investors in the four cities where events will take place:
New York, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles.
In New York on Monday, for
example, dozens of the metropolitan area’s top investors came out to observe the
presentations by the startups, many of them seeking to invest in technologies
that will make the world a little healthier and happier.
companies are at the forefront of developing these technologies is an important
talking point – and that’s the connection between hasbara and
Ayalon was right when he said Israel should deputize hi-tech
folk to tell Israel’s story. But the people he should be deputizing are the ones
who can fill a New York office with 125 movers and shakers, who are there
because they know just how many millions these technologies will