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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 23, 2010 PR- Hasbara- Whatever Name You Want to Call it: What Israel Has Never Been Able or Willing to Do
The announcement that the government had a new program of National Cultural and Historic Sites and that the the tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron and the Tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem was to be included, has set off a rather large tempest. I am tempted to say that it is a tempest in a teapot, however, it actually represents a much larger problem. For as long as I have been involved in Israeli affairs, (and that goes back to the end of my high school days, prior to the Yom Kippur War) I have been involved in discussions bemoaning the fact that Israel does not do enough about its PR. I even remember, back then, trying to get together a committee of leading PR and advertising agencies to work on behalf of Israel. (While it was not a problem to get advertising firms to do pro bono work, I could not get the Israeli government interested the venture back then). Today, the cry continues and has even gotten worse. One of our readers sent me a link to the following video Crossing the Line: The Intifadah Comes to Campus I am not sure that this video shows anything so very different from the campuses I remember as both as an undergraduate, and a decade later, as a graduate student. However, the tone has certainly gotten sharper. What does this have to do with the decision to make the two sites above historic sites? A great deal. For what Israel has failed to do for so many years is put hasbara in the forefront of its actions. No, I am not talking about the tremendous under funding of Hasbara that has been going on for decades. I am talking about making decisions, or more importantly statements, only after weighing their effect on world public opinion. Maybe the old saying is true that "what's important is not what the world says, but what the Jews do"- When it comes to important security decisions that is certainly true, but not when you are not doing, but merely saying. This is a problem that always afflicted the Likud when they are in power. They always seem to be more interested in saying things that will make their constituents happy, rather than worrying about what effect their statements would have on world public opinion.
On a related topic, there was an interesting article by Barry Rubin, on how out of touch the image of Israel is in the world. This article is worth reading. The article is called: Out of Date and out of Touch
On an irrelevant, but interesting note, I had always believed that El Al 's safety record, with only 1 EL AL plane (a 747 cargo) crashing since 1949 when an EL AL plane was shot down in Eastern Europe was due to the superior piloting skills of El Al pilots. I learned a different explanation, while reading the book, entitled: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcom Gladwell (a book I highly recommend) that most plane crashes in the past 30 years were avoidable and caused by some form of human error. And that in a large number of those cases could have been avoided if the 1st officer had been more assertive in overriding the Captain's judgement. This was especially been the case in society that are very differential to authority, thus in the 1990’s Korean Air suffered a large number of accidents. Well, guess what- that is certainly one problem I am certain EL AL has never had- ( An Israeli co-pilot that is not willing to talk up... ha). The El Al plane that did crash was due to a mechanical failure that casued an engine to all off and damage the wing, something that the pilots were unable to correct for.