How to fix Israel's broken public diplomacy effort

Bring opinion leaders here, provide data to friends abroad, and don’t put Foreign Ministry in charge.

By
February 17, 2014 14:57
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Having long argued that bringing people to see Israel for themselves is the best way to change their view of it, I was delighted to discover that someone high up in the Foreign Ministry shares my view. Unfortunately, Gideon Meir has just retired after 45 years in the ministry – after failing utterly to secure funding even for the modest effort of bringing over 3,000 non-Jews influential on American college campuses, at a cost of $12 million (NIS 42.1 million). That’s pocket change in a government budget of NIS 408.1 billion – a mere 0.01%.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Meir pointed out what ought to be obvious: Public diplomacy is as critical to Israel’s security as fighter jets, because without it, we won’t even be able to buy those jets. Or as he put it, we buy American fighters for $35 million apiece, but we’re not investing a cent in ensuring that future Congresses – whose demographic make-up will likely differ substantially from today’s – will approve selling us replacements when the current planes die. 

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