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Monday, May 24, 2010

Representing Israel abroad

I view myself as representing Israel abroad even when I am in Israel. The government has now started a program to train Israelis to represent the country abroad. So far no one has invited me (or to my knowledge any of the other large Israeli bloggers). Perhaps they should.

The JPost magazine over the weekend had a feature story on the training sessions being held for Israelis. It's worth reading. I just want to highlight a couple of things for you.
“The basic structure of the workshops was developed during an all-night marathon that Gur and I held,” explained Debate co-founder Ariel Halevi. “After an intensive brainstorming session, we attempted to turn what we knew intuitively into an organized lesson plan. The 14-hour session resulted in five principles of effective advocacy. Later we added two more, to create the backbone of the method.”

The seven principles of effective advocacy are a set of analytical and rhetorical tools that help give novice advocates the means of engaging people on issues regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“It’s not about information, it’s about knowledge. It’s about navigating the discussion effectively. Every one of the principles offers a different tactic to tackle issues that come up in encounters with foreigners,” said Halevi.

The first principle the participants are taught is the importance of terminology.

“Don’t enter into a conversation before you are clear about the terminology you’re using,” Michaelis urged. “For example, 95 percent of the security barrier that Israel built around Judea and Samaria is a fence, yet people continually refer to it as a wall. The word “wall” tends to conjure up images of the Berlin Wall. It is an inaccurate and misleading characterization of the barrier and its function – keeping out terrorists.

“I have no problem with you talking about the merits or problems of the barrier, but make sure that the conversation sticks to the facts, and not to an Israel-hater’s misrepresentation of them,” said Michaelis.

Other words to watch out for, according to the seven-principle method, are apartheid, assassinations, freedom fighters and human shields.

“Each one of them carries some kind of mental or emotional infrastructure. If you overlook the terms people use and dive straight into the ideological discussion, you are overlooking a major obstacle that someone put in your place, preventing the audience from relating to you,” said Halevi.
Anyone who has read this blog for a week knows that there are certain terms I (nearly) always put in scare quotes. They are terms like 'Palestinians' (there's no such thing), 'settlements' (those are temporary - our cities and towns are permanent), 'settlers' (they're not like the American pioneers - they're revenants and they have come back to stay), and 'security fence' (I don't believe it can provide security although I will never refer to it as a wall). The rest of their principles are also worth reading, especially for those of you who are bloggers or who write a lot of comments on blogs.

I also wanted to call something else in the article to your attention.
Not everyone is crazy about the idea of the government guiding people on what to say to foreigners. Ze’ev Beck, who leads guided tours of Israel for groups of visiting VIPs, said the workshops were a badge of shame for the government, and that people who attend them are blind to reality.

“Out of blind nationalism, people attach themselves to a lost cause. I don’t think there is anything here to advocate in favor of, in a country that has lost all hopes for the future,” said Beck. “I don’t see my role as apologizing for the empty promises of the government and the groups that I lead wouldn’t fall for the propaganda they are trying to pass on.

“Real professionals don’t need the tools the workshops provide; they are only suitable for people who grew up on a single narrative and are defenseless before someone who knows a different one.

“I may be blunt, but I am part of a thinking minority.”
Why is this guy leading guided tours for VIP's? Who hired him? Why are we shooting ourselves in the foot by entrustng him with VIP's? Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the hasbara effort?

By the way, I did not see the pamphlet they are discussing when I was at Ben Gurion on Sunday.

Read the whole thing.


At 11:59 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

If these "ambassadors" are anything like Gavri Bargil, whom the Israeli embassy sent to give a promotional lecture at the LSE, they should save their money. This is a total waste as these people say nothing useful and are just a creation of leftie morons, who think people are just going to swallow their ugly platitudes! If you go to http://morrigandunn.blogspot.com there is a report on what happened at that meeting.

Also, it was not publicised to a wide audience, just to a few - 10-12 people with the same level of brainwashing.

At 3:22 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

There are Stupid Jews in Israel... Israel doesn't need them as goodwill ambassadors either at home or abroad.

What could go wrong indeed

At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even when the masbirim are on the right track, their commitment to the Western mode of speaking makes them no match for the idealistic fervor of their Arab and Leftist adversaries. By "Western mode" I mean the perpetually calm demeanor that aims to display the truth with dispassion. When set against the Phakestinian crowd with their fiery claims ("This is OUR land! We are the INDIGENOUS people of Palestine!"), hasbarah on the Western mode looks absolutely pathetic.

There was once a regular Israeli Jewish commenter on the Guardian's Comment Is Free who would go answering every anti-Zionist claim with an unfailingly calm disposition. While he was to be lauded for it, it didn't carry a good impression with me: I felt like I was reading a series of salesman's blurbs. Just before he stopped commenting, his last few posts were of a shrill and protesting tone. He was accused by the anti-Zionists of "showing his true colors"; while I, on the other hand, said to myself, "What took you so long?!" What had taken him so long to drop off that illogically dispassionate demeanor of his and finally show a bit of righteous indignation?

There needs to be righteous indignation. Righteous indignation is the only logical reaction to the blatant chutzpah of calling Jews on the Land of Israel "colonists" and the Arab invaders "indigenous". Righteous indignation is our due in the face of this cavalier wiping out of all of Jewish history, of all the undeniable special connection of the Jewish nation to the Land of Israel, in favor of recently invented nation which is still no nation at all. Righteous indignation like when seeing someone tearing a Torah scroll to bits, which the denial of the special connection of Am Yisrael to Eretz Yisrael isn't much different from.

Enough businessman-like hasbarah, enough calmness. Let's have it for fiery passion just like our enemies: That we are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel and are fighting against invaders who want to take what doesn't belong to them.


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