Danon calls for Israeli satellite TV in English, Arabic

Likud MK says Israel must go from "defense to offense" in public diplomacy during Knesset c'tee discussion of how to deal with Nakba narrative.

May 18, 2011 03:45
2 minute read.
MK Danny Danon

MK Danny Danon 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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The Foreign Ministry’s budget for public diplomacy totals approximately $3.5 million per year, MKs learned during a Tuesday morning meeting of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Public Diplomacy Committee.

A ministry representative presented the data in the course of a session held to discuss how Israel deals with Nakba narratives presented domestically and overseas, and how Palestinian propaganda impacts Jews in the Diaspora.

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Daniel Zonshein, director of the Foreign Ministry’s public diplomacy department, said the ministry frequently acts in discrete channels, offering support in ways that are not necessarily outwardly visible.

His department’s budget totals some NIS 40m., but only around NIS 12m. ends up dedicated to public diplomacy activities at Israel’s dozens of embassies and consulates, he said.

“The [Foreign Ministry budget] is really just change, especially when divided among all of the offices throughout the world. Today, [public diplomacy] is the central front, and lectures at overseas universities, Facebook pages and interviews in Arabic are worth as much and have as much impact as a tank – and sometimes even more,” Committee Chairman Danny Danon (Likud) said.

Danon called on Zonshein to demand more money in his department’s budget, but Zonshein said the Knesset ultimately determines the ministry’s budget.

The committee chairman said Jews in the US and France are “afraid to assert their presence at some universities because of Arab propaganda.”

Danon called on both the Foreign Ministry and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry to “go from defense to offense” and repeated calls for the establishment of Israeli English and Arabic-language satellite television.

“We are seeing the results of not having Israeli satellite television in English and Arabic, despite the fact that it would require a budget of $15m. per year,” said Mordechai Keidar, a research associate at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

“The United States, France, Great Britain, Russia and China all broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week to the Arab world, and it is ironic that Israel acts as though it has nothing to say,” he said.

But Amnon Be’eri-Sulitzeanu, the Abraham Fund Initiatives co-executive director, said Israel’s media image has more to do with consumer demand than with Arab propaganda.

“There are also many wonderful and good things that are published about Israel in the international media. Only recently, Al-Jazeera broadcast an article about the degree to which the Israeli educational system tries to educate for coexistence,” he said.

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