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You no longer have to pass the grueling and selective Foreign Ministry entrance test to get trained by Israel's diplomacy experts.
For $60 and two to four hours a week, anyone with an Internet connection can get instruction from the Foreign Ministry staff that trains diplomats how to defend Israel from its critics.
The month-long e-learning â€œStating the Caseâ€ course is a combined effort of the Foreign Ministry and the Jewish Agency and builds on a pilot course developed last year for targeted responses to anti-Israel activity on campuses. This time around, the material will provide more in-depth information on Middle East history and Israel's diplomacy needs.
The idea for the program came from an e-mail officials received from a student at Berkeley in 2000, according to Eitan Eliran of the technology and education department of the Jewish Agency. He summarized the message as saying, â€œLook, you've got to help me. I don't know what to do with this hostile environment. I have nothing to say back.â€
Some 3,000 others were able to take advantage of the pilot program last year and another 1,000 are anticipated for the new class.
Eliran said the Jewish Agency initially had questioned whether to be involved in such a program, because it didn't see diplomacy as part of its mission. But it came to realize, Eliran explained, that the attacks on Israel raised questions of identity for Diaspora Jews.
By creating a virtual community to answer some of the questions Israel supporters have, Eliran said, â€œIt gives you the sense that Israel is not alone, and you're not alone in your own community. In cyberspace you can feel that Israel has some central role in the engagement of all Jews.â€