Fighting for Israel in PR War

The Ministry of Information is calling on ordinary Israeli citizens and all Zionists to become ambassadors for their country.

Maayana Miskin , | updated: 11:52 AM

Campaign: Israel not just a desert
Campaign: Israel not just a desert
Israel news photo: file

The Ministry of Information and Diaspora has unveiled an initiative intended to tap into a previously unused resource: ordinary Israelis' and overseas Jews' knowledge and their desire to improve their country's image. The ministry is turning to the public and asking everyday citizens to become unofficial “ambassadors” and work actively to improve Israel's reputation abroad.

A new advertising campaign created by the ministry pokes fun at stereotypes of Israel as a third-world country. In one clip, a British reporter solemnly tells his audience that camels are Israel's main means of transportation, while in another a Spanish-speaking reporter explains that “in most Israeli homes, there is no electricity or gas.” A third clip shows a French television presenter mistaking Israel's traditional Independence Day celebrations for the outbreak of war.

The ads then ask viewers, “Are you tired of the way they portray us? You can change the picture.”

The ministry has created a website titled “Explaining Israel” that lists some of the more common mistaken perceptions of Israel and provides concise informational literature to counter such mistaken views. For example, the site describes Israel's cutting-edge technology in such fields as cancer medication and fertility treatment, and explains that Israel offers a wide variety of culinary offerings beyond just falafel.

Sources in the ministry say the initiative appears to be successful so far, with more than 130,000 entrances to to website in the five days since its creation.

The site also offers answers to common anti-Israel political views, addressing statements such as “Israel doesn't really want peace,” or “Settlements are an obstacle to peace.” It explains that there was never an Arab state within Israel's current borders, that the Arab-Israeli conflict began long before Israel regained control of Judea and Samaria in 1967, and that United Nations resolution 242 does not require Israel to withdraw completely from lands restored to the nation in the Six-Day War.

A section on Judea and Samaria describes the region as crucial to Israel's security, discusses the Jewish people's roots in the area, and mentions that the Palestinian Authority assessment of the area's Arab population may be inflated.

The site has drawn anger from segments of the political Left, which claims that the choice of information provided to would-be informal spokesmen is not part of the national consensus. An article in the left-leaning paper Haaretz accused the ministry of pushing a right-wing agenda “under the guise of consensus.”