Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
In a campaign to improve its image abroad, the Israeli government plans to provide scholarships to hundreds of students at its seven universities in exchange for their making pro-Israel Facebook posts and tweets to foreign audiences.
The students making the posts will not reveal online that they are funded by the Israeli government, according to correspondence about the plan revealed in the Haaretz newspaper.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which will oversee the programme, confirmed its launch and wrote that its aim was to “strengthen Israeli public diplomacy and make it fit the changes in the means of information consumption”.
The government’s hand is to be invisible to the foreign audiences. Daniel Seaman, the official who has been planning the effort, wrote in a letter on 5 August to a body authorising government projects that “the idea requires not making the role of the state stand out and therefore it is necessary to adhere to great involvement of the students themselves, without political linkage or affiliation”.
According to the plan, students are to be organised into units at each university, with a chief co-ordinator who receives a full scholarship, three desk co-ordinators for language, graphics and research who receive lesser scholarships and students termed “activists” who will receive a “minimal scholarship”.
Read the full article at: independent.co.uk
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Red Ice Creations Note: The following article was published in 2010 in Haaratz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper. It speaks on ’hasbara’, defined as "public relations efforts to disseminate information about Israel". Hasbara is also a euphemism for propaganda.
Propaganda is propaganda, whether used for the best intentions, or the worst.
Israeli propaganda is both intelligent and necessary
By David Admon | Haaretz
Just as the some make conversation about the weather, here in Israel people talk about hasbara, efforts to explain and justify Israel’s policies to the rest of the world. Operation Cast Lead, the Goldstone report, the delegation to Haiti and International Holocaust Remembrance Day have all been jumbled into the debate over Israel’s PR efforts. It seem everyone has what to say about it, whether in the media, in the Knesset corridors or at gatherings of friends on a Friday evening. And everyone, so it seems, shares the sense that as always - we’ve failed at hasbara.
Indeed, Israel’s governments have always preferred to sweep the hasbara problem under the rug. Most of them were opposed to establishing an official and professional hasbara bureau.
I recall that many years ago, when I served as director of the celebrations for Israel’s 30th Independence Day, between the visit by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and the Camp David summit, members of Peace Now were organizing stormy demonstrations.
In response, then prime minister Menachem Begin called me in for a conversation (before the 1977 elections I served as Likud spokesman) and said: "We have to get the Likud hasbara headquarters going again."
"Mr. prime minister, sir, get the central hasbara machine going again - it’s in your hands," I said to him.
"Heaven forbid. The government doesn’t do hasbara - here we will not have Goebbelsism!" replied Begin, referring to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, and said no more.
I believe that this story explains the meaning of our traditional skittishness toward hasbara: the memory of the propaganda in dark regimes and a sense that it isn’t clear where hasbara ends and propaganda begins. This reluctance is so acute that some people even refrained from marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day and complained about "the Holocaust survivor used for Israeli propaganda."
Yet it is imperative to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This is not only in order to deal with Holocaust deniers but also to stress the state of Israel’s importance for the continued existence of the Jewish people.
I have also heard criticism of the Israeli delegations to Port-au-Prince and about how Israel made use of the Haitians’ tragedy for "propaganda."
What is the alternative? To remain indifferent? There is room for taking part and it is proper to cast light on the humanitarian activities of Israelis. For domestic consumption, too, this is useful: The glorification of the mission makes role models of the members of the delegations.
What is hasbara? Hasbara is visiting the inhabitants of Sderot while Qassam rockets rain down on them; Hasbara is a Nobel Prize awarded to an Israeli woman; Hasbara is the celebratory Gay Pride parade in open Tel Aviv; Hasbara is also an interview with Jewish settlers evacuated from the Gaza Strip, some of whom still live under the shadow of the trauma and have not recovered.
The confusion with respect to hasbara must be solved by centralizing it. It is necessary to establish a body with authority and money, backed by large budgets and headed by a cabinet minister. This ministry will establish professional committees specializing in various areas of hasbara. An inter-ministerial committee on hasbara should also be instated to coordinate with all the government ministries.
But first of all, a research department should be established to try to learn from the failures of the past and examine why Israel’s existence is not taken as a given in many places around the world, and why we are perceived as aliens who have just chosen to live in the Middle East.
Read the full article at: haaretz.com
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