Thursday, March 11, 2010

Size doesn't matter. As long as it's "holy"

Seems like Israel's "hasbara" is increasingly accelerating as it goes downhill. Not only has it not achieved its objective, but it has also started backfiring: with a new vigor.

The Foreign Policy magazine picked up on this ad - which is part of a larger campaign by the Canadian Council for Israel and Jewish Advocacy and the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students - to provide an analysis of the current "Masbirim" efforts put together by Netanyahu's administration. Apparently Canada's Jewish community decided to take initiative in taking Israel's relationship with the world's young people to "a new level."

The "Size Doesn't Matter" campaign is an honest attempt to educate foreigners - who are mostly in the dark - about Israel's  big diversity, big tolerance, and big environmentalism (despite its small geographic area, that is). Also, if you're interested in wild parties or in hanging out with sexy Israelis, now you know where to go (some university students won't even have to leave their campuses!). All nice, neat, and slick! (Somehow reminds me of Kosovo's "Young Europeans" initiative...)

Israeli model Bar Rafaeli (photo courtesy of Size Doesn't Matter)

And yet, here's a good example of how reckless marketing and public relations can be devastating for overall PD efforts. What's more important, however, is that the "Big Appetite for Peace", "Diversity", or "Environmentalism" conveniently ignore facts such as the 50,000 new housing units planned to be built in Eastern Jerusalem, the results of a new poll showing that half of Israeli students oppose equal rights for Arabs, some alarming rates of pollution, or the well-known issue of Israel's water resources "mismanagement" (among others)...

Again, the problem lies at the core: public diplomacy (especially when put in such "terms") cannot make up for bad policy. Israel is walking a very thin line between PD and propaganda here. I wonder if the Canadian Federation of Jewish Students really thought this is what "masbirim" is about...?

Further recommended reading:

- Forward: The Jewish Daily goes "behind the scene" of the ad
- "Sex sells" says YNetNews
- Jewish Tribune: Jewish-Canadians unwilling to comment 
- Haaretz' take
- The Media Line 
- Global Chaos: Edelstein on Al Jazeera 
- Levantine on the Masbirim initiative



  1. Love the title on this one! Israel's public diplomacy kind of baffles me. I wrote about it on my blog a little while ago ( Who exactly are they targeting with these ads?