Hasbara

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Hasbara is a Hebrew word that literally means "explanation", but encompasses the military concept of information operations, “public diplomacy,” “public affairs,” and “influence.” [1]

It is conducted internationally; Aish HaTorah, an Orthodox outreach, has a Hasbara speakers bureau in the U.S. (see Hasbara/Related Articles), and offers Hasbara fellowships in cooperation with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), which train in: [2]

  1. "Educating students on Israeli and Middle East history and politics with a specific focus on issues related to the Palestinian conflict. Lectures cover topics including History of the Land of Israel, History of the State of Israel, Media Bias, Palestinian incitement and Occupied or Disputed Territories.
  2. "Training students to be effective campus activists by creating and implementing pro-active, pro-Israel campaigns. This track includes training students to communicate effectively, workshops in building pro-Israel programming on campus and sessions dealing with "Everyday Activism" topics such as working with campus media, promoting events and building coalitions.
  3. Building students' Jewish identity and knowledge in order to be effective Jewish leaders."

The Guardian reports on the MFA initiatives to have hasbara on the Web. [3] Israel is certainly not alone in putting favorable information; the U.S. Army has observed Hamas doing so.[4]

Targeting

David Saranga, Israeli Consul General for media,at the New York Consulate, told the Jerusalem Post "All the surveys we have done shows that the biggest hasbara problem that Israel has is with males from the age of 18-35. Israel does not seem relevant for them, and that is bad for branding," he said. "In order to change their perception of Israel as only a land of conflict, we want to present to them an Israel that interests them." The Post explained, "The men's magazine MAXIM is coming to Israel for a photo shoot on Israeli women. Supported by the Foreign Ministry and ISRAEL21c, this initiative aims to showcase Israeli diversity. A month later, the photo shoot will be followed up by an article on tourism in Israel." With respect to Saranga's concern about branding, they observed "Which is where good-looking women in skimpy bikinis come in."[5]

Bikini targeting may have limits; the self-described radical group, Code Pink, sent mud-smeared, anti-Israel, bikini-wearing counterprotesters to a 2009 "beach party" in New York City's Central Park, sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism.[6]

References

  1. Michael D. Snyder, Chapter 4--Information Strategies Against A Hybrid Threat: What the Recent Experience of Israel Versus Hezbollah/Hamas Tell The US Army, in Scott C. Farquhar, Back to Basics: A Study of the Second Lebanon War and Operation CAST LEAD, Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, p. 125
  2. Hasbara Fellowships
  3. Richard Silverstein (9 January 2009), "Hasbara spam alert: With Israel's foreign ministry organising volunteers to flood news websites with pro-Israeli comments, Propaganda 2.0 is here", Guardian
  4. Michael D. Snyder, Chapter 4--Information Strategies Against A Hybrid Threat: What the Recent Experience of Israel Versus Hezbollah/Hamas Tell The US Army, in Scott C. Farquhar, Back to Basics: A Study of the Second Lebanon War and Operation CAST LEAD, Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, p. 125
  5. "Israel to put its babes forward in Maxim-um PR effort", Jerusalem Post, 22 March 2007
  6. Erica Emmich (21 Jun 2009), "Bikini-Clad Activists Crash Tel Aviv Beach Party", MyFox New York (Channel 5)