Friday, February 19, 2010

Israel's latest PR: 'we don't ride camels'

Shit you couldn't make up if they paid you for it: to try and heal Israel's seriously tarnished image, Israeli citizens are now being asked to sing their country's praises when going abroad:

Rather than focusing on the passions surrounding the Israeli-Arab conflict, the campaign suggests — with a touch of humor — that people abroad believe that camels are a leading form of transportation in Israel, or that Israelis like to barbecue outside because they have no gas or electricity at home.

But foreign attitudes toward the country would seem to have little to do with any perception that Israel is primitive — the country's high-tech sector and military are widely recognized as among the world's most advanced — and far more to do with the intractable complexities of the Mideast conflict.

Israel is still suffering the fallout from its punishing military operation in Gazawar crimes accusations from a United Nations commission. And the new campaign kicked off precisely as Israel's Mossad was accused of killing a Hamas operative in Dubai, suggesting another way Israeli citizens might be serving their government abroad. last winter, including

Anat Weinstein-Berkovits, a spokesman for the newly created government ministry behind the project, said the goal is to urge Israelis to "tell about the beautiful Israel you know."

At least one Israeli gets it:

Dan Caspi, a communications professor at Ben Gurion University, said Israelis genuinely love their country and defend its actions abroad, even if they criticize those same actions bitterly at home.

But Caspi said the campaign is still unlikely to be effective.

He noted that after Israel captured territories from Egypt, Syria and Jordan in the 1967 Mideast War, Israel's then prime minister, Levi Eshkol, is reputed to have summoned international experts and asked them how to improve Israel's suddenly complicated image. They consulted for days and then gave Eshkol one recommendation: Get out of the territories.

Little, Caspi said, has changed since then.

"The government would be better advised to first put its house in order," he said.

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