yuli edelstein 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The State of Israel fights every single day for its image and reputation in the
world’s eyes. We experienced this even more brutally after significant events
such as the Goldstone Report and the flotilla episode. Recently, we are
witnessing ever-increasing hostility among students on campuses around the
world. This involves bright young people who, to my great regret, are influenced
by the provocations of their pro-Arab friends and by the images they see on
various television networks.
As one who stands at the head of one of the
ministries responsible for fighting for our good name around the world, it is
important to emphasize to the public, that we are not totally powerless against
Arab propaganda, that Israel is using a wide-ranging “toolbox,” whose objective
is the victory in the battle against the distorted image of Israel around the
The Ministry for Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs that I lead
understands that we have no way to contend with the vast amounts of
money at the
disposal of anti-Israel agencies and therefore we continue to work hard
develop a broad human infrastructure for getting the message out.
within the scope of the “Explaining Israel” campaign that was launched
February, the ministry is equipping every Israeli who travels abroad
booklet of facts and tips for correctly explaining the history, culture
security situation of the State of Israel. The booklet indicates the
achievements of this country and its important contributions to the
well as provides tools to help make contacts, hold dialogues and get the
Finally, the ministry has set up information centers
around the country at which training workshops are held using the
method. As of today, thousands of people have successfully attended
workshops and the reactions are mostly positive.
OUR ENEMIES choose
Should we respond similarly or should we choose a different
way? There are those who claim that the media, by nature, is looking for
conflict, and therefore we must be at the front line, fighting for the
observers in Washington, Lyon and Stockholm.
Others feel it is preferable
to present Israel as a beautiful country that contributes the best it
through science, technology, medicine and culture, thus positioning
Israel in a
positive light. We should remember the words of President Shimon Peres
recently said that we must never forget that there are one billion
respect us and hundreds of millions of Americans and Europeans who
with Israel, and so ultimately we must keep in mind that we are not
about a catastrophe.
One of the critical arenas for our information
struggle is on the campuses. The academic world exploits ignorance about
It is described as a small and problematic country in the world, and the
that is created is filled with hatred, disinformation and much
Therefore, there is of great importance to find a way to reach the
these young people. In my opinion, this approach does not entail going
head” with pro-Arab propaganda through the media, but must come from the
roots – unequivocally and at the interpersonal level. The possibility of
creating a dialogue with students from around the world, for example, is
important, as they will be the ones leading the next generation from the
diplomatic and economic perspectives.
IT IS also important that we seek
every opportunity to expose young people to our beautiful country. This
for example, the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon Lezion
holding a Model United Nations.
This prestigious project is held every
year at a range of leading universities and colleges around the world.
is the second time that the Model United Nations is being held in
This is the wonderful initiative of students from the College who
felt it to be of paramount importance to simultaneously bring about 200
people to experience Israel and to personally get to know Israelis. In
opinion, this is a golden opportunity as indeed most of the students
are studying diplomatic subjects and it is they who will be leading the
generation. These students are holding meetings over the course of a
simulate the United Nations meetings and they are voting, debating and
decisions on a range of topics that are currently on the world’s agenda.
course, are making sure that they are equipped with the material that
This experiment is likely to bring about a real change in
attitudes. We’re talking about non-Jewish students from the United
Europe, Africa, China, South Korea and elsewhere who are being hosted at
homes and who are touring Israel and enjoying cultural evenings. Such
allows the presentation of Israel and its values to future leaders in
of diplomacy and government, creates longterm interpersonal connections
an informational springboard for Israel, both at the academic and social
The Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Tourism are helping to
promote this project and would consider similar projects that allow the
“rubbing of shoulders” among young people around the world.
that they will return to their countries and the next time they see a
they will watch it more critically; and when they contend with a group
pro-Arab students who are active on their campus, they will be open to
the other side and even to relaying positive messages about Israel to
family members and friends.The writer is Minister for Public
and Diaspora Affairs