In new pinkwashing recruitment campaign, Israel offers free travel for propaganda services

The story of the floundering “Brand Israel” advertising campaign continues. An Israeli government ministry has established a propaganda website called Hasbara.gov.il – a Hebrew word often translated as “propaganda”. A notice was recently published on the site asking for volunteer “candidates eligible to conduct public diplomacy activities abroad”. The volunteers “will not be eligible for any remuneration” apart from “costs of travel, daily expenses and insurance”.

(Update, December 2013: The Hasbara.gov.il website appears to have been disabled, but the Internet Archive has saved this copy of the original Hebrew.)

The advert is also the latest episode in Israel’s cynical “pinkwashing” strategy, which was powerfully criticised by American academic Sarah Schulman in the New York Times this week. The ministry’s advert says it is looking particularly for “minority members” and “representatives of the gay community” to argue Israel’s case abroad.

While “hasbara” literally translates as “explanation”, in this context it is accurate to translate it as “propaganda”. The ideology behind the term is that Israel’s case is so self-evidently just and true, that the only problem they have is PR, or “explaining” their case in the right way. Hence Israel has recently focused more on “beautifying Israel’s image abroad” (in the words of racist Israeli professor Arnon Soffer to Ilan Pappe, according to Pappe’s memoir).

Israel’s weakness is its own arrogance. They seem oblivious to the fact that advertising gimmicks can only have a limited effect, and that the majority of the world is outraged at Israel’s war crimes and its apartheid regime, not a lack of good publicity.

A full translation of the Hebrew is appended below. It was checked for accuracy by Dena Shunra:

Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs

Expanding Database of Candidates for International Public Diplomacy

The Ministry of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs (herewithin: “the Ministry”) announces the expansion of its database of candidates eligible to conduct public diplomacy activities abroad. The Ministry invites candidates who fulfil the conditions noted below to submit their candidacy to be added to the database, and is primarily interested in receiving applications from people representing the diverse faces of Israeli society, including: minority members; representatives of the gay community, and people representing the variety of existing opinions and world-views in Israeli society.

Included in the database will be people who further meet all of the conditions below:

  1. Possessing Israeli citizenship;
  2. 18 years and older;
  3. Lack of familial or personal, business or party-political connections, to members of the Public Diplomacy Committee and/or political authorities involved in the Ministry’s activities.
  4. Members of Knesset cannot appear in the database. Members of an electoral body, as defined in Guideline 1.1708 of the Guidelines to the Attorney General Concerning Limitations on Applications of Members of an Electoral Body by Public Officials”, will not be included in the database.
  5. Lack of a disciplinary or criminal record in accordance with the Law of Criminal Registry and Ordinances of Release, 1981.

From all candidates who submit an application for inclusion in the database and meet the conditions as noted above, the Public Diplomacy Committee, which was established for this purpose (From the Ministry: Director General, Head of Public Diplomacy, Accountant and Legal Advisor) will select volunteers to be included in the database in accordance with the following criteria, whether some or all:

  1. People with achievements in the fields of culture, sports, environmental protection, policies, academia, science or technology;
  2. Previous experience in social activity and/or promoting the interests of the entire public in Israel or a substantial part of it, including promotion of equality in society, democratic values and empowerment of Israel’s heritage.
  3. Fluency in foreign languages at the level required for a representative appearance;
  4. Availability;
  5. Public diplomacy relevancy/value to Israel;

Selection of candidate from within the database

From amongst all the candidates included in the database, the Public Diplomacy Committee will invite for an interview a volunteer candidate for conducting a specific public diplomacy action, and the volunteer will be selected in accordance with the criteria determined in Article 5 of the Regulation for Selecting Volunteers for Conducting Public Diplomacy Abroad.

Between the volunteers and the Ministry there will be no employer-employee relations as defined in law. It will be clarified that the employment of volunteers selected by the Public Diplomacy Committee for conducting public diplomacy activities will be done in accordance with Directives 16.6 of the Public Service Regulations and Directives for Support of Public Institutions, and through an agreement that will be signed by the volunteer and those authorised to sign on behalf of the Ministry.

The volunteers selected will not be eligible for any remuneration and/or social benefits apart from costs of travel, daily expenses and insurance, and in accordance with the aforementioned conditions in Article 16.63 of the Public Service Regulations.

Submission of candidacy

Submission from a candidate will include:

A position letter in which the desire of the candidate to be included in the database will be detailed; a CV that includes, amongst other things, note of linguistic fluency, certificates testifying to education and detailing of experience in the field of Israeli public diplomacy.

The forms should be sent to Margarita Spichko by fax: 02 6587125 or by email: margaritas@pmo.gov.il.

For additional details and any question/clarification, please contact Ms. Margarita Spichko on telephone: 02 6587112.

It is duly noted that inclusion in the database involves no obligation to actually implement public diplomacy activities on behalf of the Ministry.

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Creepy! Does this make 29 or 30 of groups trying to "propagandize" the rest of the world? Let me see, there's the attack on wikipedia's dictionary to rewrite to Israel's advantage, there's the free helicopter rides along the wall for the media, there's AIPAC, there's the gang that threatened my paper's (coastalpost.com) advertisers until they withdrew and we folded, then there's...

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He first visited Palestine in 2004.