THE BATTLE OF HEARTS & MINDS-Over 100 volunteer propaganda groups around the world work hard to help balance and fight the deligitimization of IsraelCategory: Israel Issue No. 160
“Israel is fighting the battle for public opinion around the world. Israel and its defenders have been outclassed and outmaneuvered in a war of the heart and mind being waged on a battleground it never even acknowledged it was on.”
Thus began a lecture recently by Melanie Phillips, an outspoken journalist in the UK, on a visit to Israel.
She then went on to say: “as a routine, everyday discussion of history is turned on its head; logic is suspended; and an entirely false narrative of the conflict is now widely accepted as unchallengeable fact, from which fundamental error has been spun a global web of potentially catastrophic false conclusions. This has led to a kind of dialogue of the demented in which rational discussion is simply not possible because there is no shared understanding of the meaning of language. So victim and victimiser, truth and lies, justice and injustice turn into their precise opposite.”
Phillips summed up the problem that this battle is being fought in the schools, the universities, the trade union movement, the churches and with the average citizen of countries all over the world. The campaign of deligitimization of the State is rampant and gaining momentum.
Israel and its defenders need to make the argument for justice and reclaim that moral high ground from the enemies of Israel and the West, both within Israel and abroad. It is those enemies who deny truth, justice and human rights. It is those enemies who should be in the dock. It is time to take the gloves off and put them there.
The Response to the Challenge
The organization ICAN, (International Citizens Action Network.) was founded in 2002 to tackle the problems of hostile activity at grassroots level. Most of the initial membership had arrived in Israel as young immigrants and lived through the history of the country. They have the language skills, a desire to speak up and the ability to present Israel's case to the world. This segment of the population was in the unique position of being able to speak with personal experience as Israelis while maintaining the familiarity of the language and cultural norms of their former countries. ICAN is apolitical in putting the case for Israel, it does not promote the ideology of any one political party.
ICAN has now grown to accommodate the continuing challenge, and embraces members of all ages from both Israel and abroad. In fact more than 65% of the membership lives outside Israel in over 15 countries.
Action notices and information are sent out by email to all members as well as to other information groups in America, Canada, Australia and the UK for distribution amongst their own members. Alerts contain relevant information and contact details for letters to the foreign press, international organizations and public figures.
ICAN also provides a self-help link for those who wish to tackle questions or issues that arise when friends or family from overseas are in contact and one finds difficulty in answering their comments.
A Global Involvement
After the initial activities of ICAN, it was apparent that many other organizations around the world had also picked up the challenge. In order to maintain a dialogue with these groups, CoHaV, (the Coalition of Hasbara Volunteers) was launched in 2003. This umbrella propaganda organization facilitates cooperation and networking among other volunteer groups around the world and provides the means to coordinate international campaigns and projects for combating anti-Semitism and false propaganda about Israel.
In the short time since its establishment, over 100 groups in Israel and abroad have joined CoHaV. Since most groups comprise well over 1,000 members, CoHaV now directly reaches some several hundred thousand persons and indirectly through member web sites, and redistributed emails, approximately 1 million persons, including many non-Jews around the world, inEurope, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, South Africa and of course Israel.
The activities of member groups include:
- media response
- public speaking
- producing film videos
- compiling research reports
- organizing public events
- making personal contact with journalists and opinion formers
Whilst English is an important language in the field of propaganda, there is also need for material in other languages. In meeting this need, one of the CoHaV members has set up the web site Take-A-Pen www.takeapen.org that has material available in 18 languages.
CoHaV maintains contacts with government offices such as the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Office and the Army Spokesman’s Office as well as other governmental agencies such as the Water Commission and Ministry of Agriculture and thus is able to send out to members information from these sources which does not always reach the mainstream media.
There is also an outreach program helping to train company staff who travel overseas or receive overseas visitors to encourage them to advocate more effectively for Israel. Further, there are lectures to visitors to Israel in various volunteer programs such as the 'Sar-El' army volunteers and the Gideon project.
CoHaV members believe strongly in maximizing the potential of reaching the grassroots population and tackling anti Israel campaigns such as boycotts, divestment and sanctions or other deligitimization activities.
Israel is being bombarded by the media, the non-governmental organizations and directly by the Palestinians with propaganda, untruths, distortions of facts and a rewriting of our history. We have to stop playing the defensive game and go onto the offence.
We should be pointing out the absurdities, contradictions and untruths of our enemies. We should be destroying their reputations.
We must get up off our collective knees and fight. Justice, human rights and truth are on our side, not the side of our enemies. We must reclaim them as our own and to do this we need as many people as possible to help in this battle.
If you would like to become involved in pro-Israel propaganda contact Stuart Palmer, Director Blog www.haifadiarist.blogspot.com, Tel 04 825 7805, Mobile 054 692 0604, Email: email@example.com
Stuart Palmer is a retired engineer who made aliya from the UK in 1981. A former international marketing manager, since retiring he is Director of ICAN and Honorary Chairman of COHAV.
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