Israeli students launch hasbara mission to S. Africa

Some 27 students are slated to set out on 10-day public diplomacy mission in attempt to fight against the delegitimization of Israel.

By NADAV ROITER
July 13, 2011 03:46
2 minute read.
'What Is real participants'

'What Is real participants' 311. (photo credit: Netanel Avner)

 
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Some 27 students are slated to set out on a 10-day public diplomacy mission to South Africa next month to combat claims that the Jewish democratic state is an apartheid one.

In an attempt to promote the fight against the delegitimization of Israel – especially on college campuses – Alon Kimhi, founder of an independent hasbara organization, started a Facebook page close to half a year ago. The mission was organized in coordination with the World Union of Jewish Students and the South African Union of Jewish Students.

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The group, called “What Is rael” (a play on “what is real”), describes its members as “Israeli students promoting dialogue.”

“Israel is not apartheid, South Africa was. Please don’t make that comparison,” said Roi Wolf, the organization’s spokesman, paraphrasing the mission’s central message.

The group’s itinerary is jam-packed and includes visits to six universities in two of South Africa’s capitals: Capetown (legislative) and Pretoria (administrative) as well as Johannesburg.

The mission will be “non-provocative,” Wolf said. Activities include holding discussion panels and handing out pro-Israel pamphlets.

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“Pro-Palestinian anti-Israel campaigns are held weekly on South-African campuses,” said Wolf, adding, “we aren’t anticipating a friendly response but we hope to give them (South- African students) a different view of what’s going on in Israel.”

With just under a month to go, the organization – which prides itself on being independent of government influence and does not even accept government grants – finds itself strapped for funds. Additionally, they are looking for more participants to join in on what the organizers see as an important mission.

“Despite these difficulties the staff is quite positive about the turnout for this mission,” Wolf said.

In an effort to garner funds and members, and promote pro-Israel hasbara, What Is rael is advertising a night out in a Tel Aviv nightclub.

The “dance to defend Israel” party will take place at the Dizengoff Nightclub next Saturday night. Tickets cost NIS 50 and all proceeds go toward subsidizing the students’ trip, which they are paying for themselves.

What Is rael has started planning their next missions abroad to other destinations, including Canada and the US in October and November.

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