Israel to use 'ordinary' people for PR

85% answer that they would like to help Israel's image when abroad.

February 17, 2010 03:39
2 minute read.
Yuli Edelstein

yuli edelstein 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)


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After trying almost everything possible in its efforts to improve Israel’s image internationally, the government will embark on a new strategy Wednesday by training ordinary Israelis to represent the country abroad.

In a campaign initiated by Yuli Edelstein’s Ministry for Public Diplomacy and the Diaspora, Israelis will be invited to learn how to present a positive message to the world from pocket pamphlets that will be distributed at Ben-Gurion Airport, the new Web site,, and from training workshops across the country.

Varied groups will be invited to attend the workshops, including politicians, diplomats, retired generals, businessmen, tour guides, celebrities, athletes, youth group delegations and ordinary Israelis.

“In light of Israel’s negative image in the world, we realized that Israel had to counter the vast sums of money available to Arab countries for propaganda by taking advantage of our human resources,” Edelstein said. “We decided to give Israelis who go abroad tools and tips to help them deal with the attacks on Israel in their conversations with people, media appearances and lectures before wide audiences. I hope we succeed together in changing the picture and proving to the world that there is a different Israel.”

Edelstein called the initiative Tsva Hasbara LeYisrael, the Israeli Public Diplomacy Forces, based on the Hebrew name of the IDF.

Six months of planning went into the campaign to
utilize the more than three million Israelis who go abroad every year.

A poll sponsored by the ministry found that 91 percent of 495 Jewish Israelis surveyed believed that Israel had a bad or very bad image abroad. The same percentage said Israel was seen as a country suffering from terror and wars, 80% said Israel was considered overly aggressive, 30% said the country had an unfriendly image, and 26% thought the world saw Israel as undeveloped.

Asked whether they would want to help represent Israel when they were abroad, 85% said “yes.”

The ministry’s commercials, which will begin airing this week, suggest the world sees Israel as warlike, primitive, and underdeveloped. The cover of the brochure that will be distributed at the airport depicts a camel and a quotation describing the animal as a popular mode of transportation in the country.

The brochures describe Israel’s popular tourist sites, the treatment of its Arab minority, and facts about its history and democracy. In addition to wars and the peace process, the history includes the Israeli invention of the Disk-on-key in 2000, its victory in the 1998 Eurovision song contest, the country’s first Nobel Prize in 1966, and Maccabi Tel Aviv’s victory in the 1977 Euroleague championship.

The brochure also includes tefilat hadereh, the travelers’ prayer – an indication that when it comes to improving Israel’s image abroad, the Jewish state may require heavenly intervention.

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