The Foreign Ministry and the Re-Branding of Israel; Again?

On Wednesday evening, I was among 200 bloggers in Israel who attended Nefesh b’Nefesh’s first annual Bloggers Conference held at NBN offices in Givat Shaul.

There was nothing much new to come out of the various panel discussions, Q & As beyond the opportunities for face-to-face, in-person networking amongst bloggers. But the deli and salads were great.

For me, the comments at the conference compelled a re-focusing on old-fashioned proven methods of SEO — swapping blogroll links and blog comments with other bloggers in Jewish blogosphere.

Bibi Netanyahu spoke to the group and fielded questions, at one point giving a history lesson to one of the questioners regarding Mishne and Talmud citings of the Jews still making up a majority in the Land of Israel 800-900 years after Korbon Beit HaMikdash Sheini.

The final segment of the conference discussed the concept of building Israel one post at a time although there there were panelists who didn’t quite see eye-to-eye with the concept.

But preceding the final segment was a presentation on Branding Israel by the Foreign Ministry’s Director of Brand management.

The director spoke claiming a paradigm shift in the Foreign Ministry’s mindset regarding branding from what the ministry heretofore projected or perceived as Israel’s branding image in the world. She showed samples of branding, i.e. the logos of Los Vegas and New York City and the necessity to reflect both the positive of a brand as well as it’s warts. She narrated a power-point presentation illustrating the foreign ministry’s perception of Israel’s image in the world; as embattled, as a nation living under seige as characterized by the power-point picture of a child infront of a tank. She portrayed an Israel where women are allegedly stereotyped and perceived as rendered invisible in the home as well as in communal life. She noted that this latter (alleged) perception resembles Saudi Arabia, even though the fact is that a female, Tzipy Livni, is Israel’s current foreign minister seems a direct contradiction of the (alleged) perception.

Her description of the problem had validity to it, although even the mere discussion by the foreign ministry, or any branch of Israel’s government, of branding problems and solutions raises my suspicions in light of the eviction of nearly 10,000 Jews from their homes and communities in Gush Katif and the Shomron — Jewish land and (Heaven forbid) possible future evictions hundreds of thousands more Jews from Yehuda and the Shomron under the guise of “peace (sic)”.

She indicated that the foreign ministry, with Livni as Minister, has recently inked a sizeable contract to facilitate more branding research and to develop a branding plan.

It is too bad that the branding director’s portrayal of the foreign ministry’s branding solutions are nebulous. She referred to multi-cultural — a nation with 3 religions and one could not help but view her “solution” in the context of leftist foreign ministry agendization; a “state of all its people.” We tend to let such characterizations pass without protest and to tolerate too much. When the speaker referred to Branding research and analysis contracts with Livni heavily involved, and then mentions about 3 religions in Israel — the combination is too much to take.

Granted, the picture of the child in front of the tank; the perception of a nation under siege is not the right message to deliver to the world. Nor are false stereotypes derived from “house party games” a rationale for presenting branding solutions which forsake everything Jewish, forsake every Jewish principle.

Further, when the Israeli government or foreign ministry, as presently constituted, speaks of branding and shows pictures totally devoid of Jewish content, I can only think; well these are the same guys who projected for branding just 1 1/2 years ago a “gay-friendly, swinger-
friendly” Israel as noted on this blog
here and here. This is the same governance about whom this blog cited Martin Sherman who wrote two days ago;

“…The explanation of the failure is very simple… The truth of the matter is that Israel is losing the battle for world opinion because…it simply has no desire to win!”

This is the same “too-tired”governance that quakes after each Islamic Arab blood libel against the Jews as characterized by the picture below of Prime Minister Olmert hiding his face in his hands in shame over an incident for which Israel was not responsible. Blogosphere rapidly debunked the blatantly false Arab accusations against Israel regarding Qana during the Lebanon conflict, just as they did after the Gaza Beach “tragedy” and countless other pallywood libels.

At the mention of Israel as a nation of 3 religions, I could take no more and vocalized protest. We ARE a Jewish state and not a state of all its people. Jewish content, presented in positive terms and perception, needs to be an important factor in branding.

Just as attributes of other nations go into their branding as witness the discussion of foods, for example at the Italy party, aren’t there outdoor cafe, shwarma scenes, shuk scenes, S’fardi parties and food scenes, Hora scenes, Jerusalem’s midrakov (spelling) off of King George and more? If we all devoted some time, we could come up with hundreds, thousands of scenes which emphasize positive branding content. And then, if the foreign ministry wants to throw in Tel Aviv beach scenes and bikinis — okay but they ought not to be the major thrust of branding content.

Finally, as fundamental and axiomatic as Israel — a Jewish state is to us, the point must be constantly reiterated infinitum to the government, to the foreign ministry lest silence be seen and/or perceived as acquiesence and thus complicity with evil.

Looking forward to the next Nefesh b’Nefesh’s Bloggers Conference.