The following is a complete translation of this Israeli Globes article. Translator’s comments are noted with a star and written below.
We’ll Take Over the World? Ministry of Foreign Affairs Allocates 100 Million Shekel for State Branding
Ministry of Foreign Affairs is enlarging the part of its PR budget designated to the branding of the state of Israel in the world, and is allocating an unprecedented amount of 100 million Shekel (over $26,260,000 to date) to the activity- Globes discovered.
Until today, the Foreign Affairs’ Hasbara and PR budget was estimated at 40 million Shekel (over $10,500,000 to date). 30 million Shekel of that sum (over $7,878,000 to date) were used for routine expenses, meaning that in practice only 10 million Shekel (over $2,626,000) were designated for PR and Hasbara.
The authorization for the receiving of the budget was approved yesterday (Monday), after Minister of Foreign affairs, Avigdor Leiberman, finalized the issue with Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz.
Globes also found out that the activity will focus on the internet, especially on social networks.* This is following research performed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which it found that surfers will show sympathy and identify with content that interests them, regardless of the identity or the political affiliation of the publisher.
In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 6 niches were identified in which Israel has a relative advantage, and these will be the focus of promotion on the internet. The 6 niches through which it is planned to promote Israel, in the world, are environment (with an emphases on desert agriculture); Science and technology (medicine, internet and hi-tech); Culture and art; Human variety and tradition; lifestyle and leisure culture; Tikun Olam [=Fixing the world] (support of populations of special needs).**
Like a Private Company
In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a tender is planned over the budget. Those invited to participate are PR and marketing companies that are internet leaning.
Edo Aharoni, who visualized and found the branding project, says that the chosen PR company will be responsible for promoting Israel through sub-brands that work within the company, such as tourist sights with international affinity (the Dead Sea, Jerusalem); Leading figures (artists, scientists) or products (olive oil, wine).***
The internet activity will focus on audiences that are interested in these niches, through the social networks that they surf, including wine and culture enthusiast forums and websites. Aharoni says it’s a quantum leap for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that until now dealt mainly with classic Hasbara and crisis management.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the goal is to align the activity of the public sector, on Hasbara issues, to that of the private sector, in relation to the models and methods of action. Similar to the way private companies manage their marketing budget.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Leiberman, said on the matter that “today’s world requires completely different paths and plans than those we were accustomed to in the past, and it’s the governmental sector’s responsibility to move forward with the world of media and business and bring to the maximizing of Israel’s relative advantages with modern means.”
* The IDF has already begun with this strategy with accounts on major social networks, such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter.
** These 6 niches are already well in use for Hasbara by both the government and NGO’s with a similar agenda, and in fact aren’t new at all.
*** Many of these are already “boycottable” according to the Palestinian call for BDS.