Israelis give gov't a failing grade in public diplomacy - study

Facebook is considered the most influential platform for news regarding political and security matters.

 BRIG.-GEN. RAN KOCHAV, former commander of the air force’s Air Defense Command, takes over as the new chief IDF spokesperson and member of the General Staff. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
BRIG.-GEN. RAN KOCHAV, former commander of the air force’s Air Defense Command, takes over as the new chief IDF spokesperson and member of the General Staff.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Israelis gave the country a failing grade in public diplomacy, particularly on the international stage, according to a new report from the Institute for National Security Studies  at Tel Aviv University.

The study, published ahead of an upcoming conference, noted that most Israelis (61.2%) said they would support Israel on social media during a military conflict, such as the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls conflict between Israel and Hamas.

However, the conflict itself was partially waged in the field of public diplomacy over social media. In fact, only a fifth (19.4%) of the Israeli public actually thinks the true confrontation with Hamas took place on the battlefield.

In addition, nearly half (43.9%) of all Israelis thought that neither Israel nor Hamas won the conflict.

Despite this, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit continues to hold the highest degree of trust regarding the military and security information.

 Social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok (credit: Courtesy) Social media: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok (credit: Courtesy)

Further, an overwhelming majority of Israelis (80%) support the use of censorship in matters of security.

Despite this, nearly half of the Israeli public (44.9%) think that a policy regarding ambiguity surrounding Israeli military actions – such as IAF activity in Syria – is harmful to national security.

The study also found that social media has become more influential in Israel than traditional media outlets. In particular, Facebook is seen as the most used outlet when it comes to news about political and security issues, dominating all other media platforms by a considerable margin (41.2%).

However, responses differed between Jewish and Arab respondents, with almost half (47.1%) of Arabs saying social media was most influential while Jewish Israelis ranking TV channels first (27.4%), social media (23.7%) and then news sites (20%).

The full study will be released at the upcoming INSS conference set to take place from October 24-25.