Approaches to Hasbara

February 10, 2004 15:35 by

A number of recent articles discussing the best approach to making Israel’s case in the court of world opinion:

? Gideon Meir of Israel’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs says Israel activists should stop using the term ‘hasbara’ (‘explanation’) because:

it has a negative or apologetic connotation and we have nothing for which we have to apologize. We have a strong case.

? The chairman of the Israel Hasbara Committee disagrees with Meir, and believes the main need now is to separate Israeli leaders from corruption:

Only this approach will prevent Israel from being labeled and equated as one of two warring peoples, as if we are on the same level as the corrupt regime of Yasser Arafat. When we really start to get serious on these issues, we will begin to change our fate.

It is said that societies produce leaders they deserve just as water will always find its own level. Leaders reflect the qualities of the masses. All change is made by leaders, not by the masses; and this is equally true of democracies. Once Israel starts to do a little house cleaning, perhaps we can start to make some real progress in our ‘Hasbara’ efforts. So let us not be shallow-minded and naïve and think that change will come about by any other means, such as making a few cosmetic name changes by replacing the word ‘hasbara’. Let us not make this word a scapegoat for our real failings.

? UK Chief Rabbi Jonathon Sacks believes it’s necessary to adjust the message to the audience:

influencing public opinion has ground rules, and they are different in each country. In Britain they require a certain tone of voice: subtlety, the use of nuance and an absence of stridency. This is not always understood by Israelis or members of the Jewish community who sometimes feel that the purpose of a media intervention is to make Jews feel better rather than to persuade the unpersuaded. Shreying gevalt may be good therapy, but it is poor hasbara.

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