by Larry Defner, published in Nation Branding

AS FOR “rebranding” – which means changing the subject from “the conflict” to all the cool and groovy things about Israel – this is insipid. This is an insult to people’s intelligence. It’s an attempt to airbrush certain little details – specifically, endless war and hatred – out of the Israeli picture in the belief that people are too dumb to notice, and that they will begin associating Israel not with war and hatred, but with dancing in Tel Aviv and hi-tech in Herzliya Pituah.

Many are drawing parallels between Israel and apartheid South AfricaLarry Defner
22 January 2007
Nation Branding

Nobody and nothing in the world has an army of advocates, defenders, PR people, marketers, spin-meisters and image-polishers like Israel has. This army isn’t made up just of the government, but of Jews and Judeophiles all over the world, especially in the US. It includes the entire alphabet soup of American Jewish organizations, right-wing “media watchdogs” like CAMERA and Honest Reporting, hundreds of Jewish newspapers and Web sites, Alan Dershowitz, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Republican Party, the Christian Right, FOX News and an assortment of other forces.

Yet despite this incredible mobilization, Israel’s image, its “brand,” couldn’t be in worse shape. The latest evidence comes from a polling organization called Nation Brands Index, which asked over 25,000 consumers worldwide their impressions of 36 different countries, and found that Israel finished 36th, at the bottom – by a wide margin.

Most Jews, I think, would blame these results on anti-Semitism, on hostile foreign media coverage of Israel, and on Israel’s incompetence at making its case to the world. The solution, most Jews would probably say, is to redouble the hasbara effort, to find winning personalities and persuasive voices to carry Israel’s banner, to come up with fresh angles and arguments, to speak with “one voice,” to stay “on message”; and, at the same time, to “rebrand” Israel as a land not of war, but of beautiful beaches, dazzling nightlife, Nobel scientists and violin virtuosos.

I find this to be a self-righteous attitude, typical of the staunchly “pro-Israel” community, and also pathetic because it has led, and will continue to lead, to nothing but failure.

So long as Israel is seen in the media beating the crap out of Arabs, especially Arab civilians, it will be judged a bully, and nobody likes a bully. So long as Israel inflicts many, many times more damage on its enemy than it suffers at the enemy’s hands – as was the case in Lebanon – Israel will come out looking bad. As long as Israel fights by the principle of dozens upon dozens of eyes for an eye – as it has been doing in Gaza – Israel will remind the world not of David, but of Goliath.

I’m afraid that anyone who absorbed the news from Lebanon and Gaza, and who does not believe in the principle of myriad eyes for an eye, has to say that Israel has pretty well earned that image of late...

AS FOR “rebranding” – which means changing the subject from “the conflict” to all the cool and groovy things about Israel – this is insipid. This is an insult to people’s intelligence. It’s an attempt to airbrush certain little details – specifically, endless war and hatred – out of the Israeli picture in the belief that people are too dumb to notice, and that they will begin associating Israel not with war and hatred, but with dancing in Tel Aviv and hi-tech in Herzliya Pituah.

And in the face of continuous, utter failure, the hasbara army marches on. In her story on the Nation Brands Index, The Jerusalem Post’s Tovah Lazaroff reported: “The Foreign Ministry’s Director of Public Affairs Amir Gissin said the survey underscored for him the importance of the new nation-branding drive Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni launched this fall.”

However, Simon Anholt, head of Nation Brands Index, drew the opposite conclusion, reported Lazaroff: “The most persuasive and memorable facts, unfortunately for Israel, were about the conflict, so the image of Israel as a bully was more likely to stick in people’s minds rather than the idea of Israel as an expert in solar energy, Anholt said. These images are ’so negative and powerful that they contaminated everything else in the index,’ Anholt said.”...

Original article at Nation Branding

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