Friday, October 31, 2008

On Today's Public Diplomacy Conference

I attended today an International Conference on Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century: The Israeli Case which centered on a discussion of "The Neaman Document", a draft report of a joint research of Samuel Neaman Institute and Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The schedule is here.

Public diplomacy is as close as the academic world can get to the Israeli Hebrew term of "Hasbara", which has a meaning of "explaining" and "justifying" but less than "propaganda".

I only stayed for three sessions but learned that whereas the Foreign Ministry, besides is 'branding' effort of the last few years (at the Int'l Jewish Blogging Conference, we were shown a film clip about it), talks about the "other Israel", it needed an Austrian to suggest the "real Israel".

In some countries, it was reported, what drew the most interest about Israel was news about ancient Israel and archeology. Well, that's good news for those of us who want to retain Judea and Samaria. After all, this is the heartland of that.

David Witztum neglected in his remarks to pinpoint one of the worse sources for anti-Israel news: Israeli journalists.

I suggested to Prof. Dov Shinar that a book should be collected of episodes of the successes and failures of those who have worked, professionally or voluntarily, on Hasbara. That would be the best learning device.

Here's a description of the project:

The S. Neaman Institute, together with Israel Foreign Ministry, has initiated a project to develop a Public Diplomacy Plan (Hasbara) for the State of Israel. The project is based on the assumption that despite the ongoing exercise of public diplomacy by governmental entities and other authorities, there is a real need to periodically evaluate the contents and methods used, to redefine audiences and agents on the conceptual and strategic levels, and to check the actual level of activity. These checks and updates should be integrated into a comprehensive plan which will comply with the State of Israel and its needs, in accordance with the spirit of the times. The plan should also reflect recommendations based on past achievements and failures, approaches to dealing with controversial issues, the use of new technologies, and the need to create uniqueness and strength when introducing messages onto the media agenda.

Five work teams will carry out the project's objectives. Team 1 will conduct an historical survey and analyze its contents; Team 2 will develop content on key political issues; Team 3 will develop content on Israel's achievements in a variety of fields: Team 4 will explore ways and means to deliver messages; and Team 5 will identify target audiences in order to maximize message-delivery efficiency.

Pilots of the project will be conducted in two countries, one in East Asia (India) and one in Europe (Denmark). During the final stage of the project, a "Public Diplomacy Manual" draft will be distributed to participants at a professional conference. A final manual will be published after receiving professional input.

1 comment:

haroon ullah said...

Haroon Ullah is a member of the Secretary of State's Policy Planning Staff, where his portfolios include countering violent extremism and public diplomacy. Previously, he served as director of the Community Engagement Office at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan. Dr. Ullah has also worked as a Belfer Fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, focusing on democratization, counterterrorism, and religious political parties in the Middle East and South Asia.