Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu 311 .
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
As part of a new preemptive hasbara (public diplomacy) policy, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu uploaded a YouTube video Thursday lauding Israel’s human
rights record two days before International Human Rights Day. Israel’s
detractors generally use this day as a peg to lambaste the
“International Human Rights Day is a day the State of Israel
stands proud,” Netanyahu said. “Proud of its record as a vibrant pluralistic
democracy. A democracy that has maintained its values despite security
challenges faced by no other nation on earth.”
Appearing just a couple of
days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was quoted as having said
private conversation that some IDF soldiers’ refusal to listen to female singers
reminded her of Iran, Netanyahu underlined the differences.
“We are proud
that in the Middle East where women are stoned, gays are hanged and minorities
are persecuted, Israel has a woman who is a chief justice, we have gay pride
parades and one million Arab citizens who are free,” he said.RELATED:Opinion: The power of ‘hasbara’Netanyahu a YouTube favorite in the Arab world
sources said that the video had nothing to do with Clinton’s criticism, and was
planned weeks ago.
Indeed, the video is part of a more aggressive hasbara
policy that is being ushered in by Yoaz Hendel, Netanyahu’s new director of
communications and public diplomacy, who took over the job some four months ago.
He is also the head of what is called the National Information Directorate, set
up as a result of the recommendations made after the Second Lebanon War to
better coordinate between the various government and nongovernmental agencies
involved in public diplomacy.
According to Hendel, this body – which
since his arrival has added a number of new positions – is dealing with hasbara
on three levels.
The first is to come up with a unified Israeli response
to events as they occur, such as crafting Israel’s reaction in September to the
Quartet’s release of a new framework to return to negotiations with the
The second level has to do with drawing up the country’s
hasbara strategy for events that are known beforehand, such as Saturday’s
International Human Rights Day, or a flotilla setting sail from Turkey, or a
report on Iran coming out of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
the third level has to do with planning for unknowns, or having contingency
plans for how to deal with a wide variety of possible scenarios, so that when
one of these scenarios takes place – such as a military action in Gaza or
elsewhere – the hasbara strategy will have already been thought out, and will
not be improvised on the run.