Yesterday, Israel’s ‘Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister’ Yuli Edelstein spoke at some length about his country’s ‘PR problem’, including possible plans to create a 24-hr news channel. But further down the article, Edelstein talked about the ways in which Israel’s propaganda effort is being increasingly delegated to volunteers:
“We’ve been working on creating an infrastructure of our friends and allies around the world, in the Jewish and Christian communities, which is not fully ready yet. It’s based on volunteers and professionals [who will coordinate the transmission of accurate information],” the minister said.
Edelstein conceded that the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Ministry suffered from restrictive budget problems. Nevertheless, he was seeking to implement ambitious initiatives based on volunteers.
“This is the 21st century, and that means things that are not officially called hasbara are the best hasbara. The moment things come from the government, the state, or ministries, they are perceived as being less reliable and as propaganda,” Edelstein said.
”There are many things only volunteers can do. Writing on Facebook, Twitter blogs, and sending e-mails to friends is second to none. The best things people can do are not about money, but about doing things in the right way.”
Edelstein cited an operations center housed in his ministry and staffed by volunteers, as well as a ministry secretary, both aimed at maintaining continuous contact with Diaspora communities.
He has been quoted as saying “Sleep is the best meditation.” May I suggest his holiness wake up to the fact that the two wars started by his friend George W. Bush are the clearest violations of his own espoused principles of peace and non-violence. Really, does no one else find it absurd that the Dalai Lama has on multiple occasions since 2001 stood unopposed to the brutal, barbaric and illegal wars first in Afghanistan and later Iraq? This sought-after personality loved by celebrities, the CIA, political leaders and civilians alike restated today in Calgary that “It’s hard to tell which category the current military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq will eventually fall into.”
An article in yesterday’s Financial Times reported some interesting (if characteristically deluded) perspectives from the Israeli right in its closing paragraphs. International condemnation of Israel’s latest atrocities has apparently been blamed on the ‘Palestinian PR Machine’. At first I thought this ‘machine’ was as subtle and obscure as other figments of the neocon/Likudnik imagination. However, readers should be aware that according to a security source of mine it is indeed as powerful and frightful as these bizarre statements suggest and furthermore it can be launched within 45 minutes. Its existence is also confirmed by Emanuele Ottolenghi of St Antony’s College, Oxford (oh yes and the American Jewish Committee’s Transatlantic Institute).
So it’s no laughing matter. In fact it’s so powerful that it requires an even greater propaganda assault than Israel has already launched (in retaliation naturally). According to the Financial Times:
To counter these forces and repair Israel’s standing, one rightwing commentator this week went so far as to call for an Israeli ministry for PR. Adi Mintz said the ministry should be fitted out with “many dozens of video teams, editors and producers that would generate materials and immediately distribute them to all media outlets”. Israel’s message, he added, should be heard not just in America, but also “on television screens in Romania and China”.
The National Information Directorate and the Cabinet Secretariat, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, have decided to dispatch Government ministers on information missions abroad, starting in the coming days. In the framework of the information efforts, it was decided to send ministers on diplomatic and media activity in various European countries. Each minister will go on a short mission to one or two countries, including Belgium, Austria and Ireland. The possibility of sending abroad residents of the south in order to give firsthand accounts of the security reality in which they have lived for years. Israeli embassies will formulate agendas for the ministerial visits, including meetings with political officials and media interviews.