Israel enlists its citizens in PR efforts

Associated Press / February 20, 2010

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Your article has been sent.

  • E-mail|
  • Print|
  • Reprints|
  • |
Text size +

JERUSALEM - Israel’s government has launched a campaign aiming to boost the country’s image abroad even as it finds itself in the middle of an international uproar over the suspected role of Israeli spies in the assassination of a Hamas operative.

Through a new website, TV commercials, and pamphlets handed to passengers boarding planes, the campaign launched this week tries to get Israelis to promote their country when traveling.

But it offers a puzzling take on what foreign attitudes toward the country are, and appears to reflect a view that poor public relations, and not policies, lie at the root of Israel’s image problem.

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 Gaza last winter, including war crimes accusations from a United Nations commission.