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Arab League gathering. No hasbara to Arab world
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Comptroller: Ongoing failure in PR in Arabic
In annual report, Lindenstrauss points to 'intolerable foot-dragging' in Israeli hasbara in Arabic language, says failure seen especially during Second Lebanon War
Israeli hasbara is suffering from an ongoing failure, which was illustrated intensely before, during and after the Israeli operation in Gaza, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said Wednesday in his annual report.

 

According to the comptroller, Israel's PR activity in Arabic should provide an answer to populations speaking this language, which can be divided into four geographic groups: 1. In the Gaza Strip and West Bank; 2. In Arab countries neighboring Israel; 3. In countries far from Israel; 4. In Israel.

 

The 2007 report also said in regards to hasbara in Arabic that "since the previous examination in 2002 the situation has remained unchanged, and during the Second Lebanon War the ongoing PR failure even worsened among the Arab world, residents of the Palestinian Authority and Arabic-speaking populations in Israel.

 

The Comptroller's Office recommended that the government work to fix the failures, but it appears the ministries are wasting time.

 

In July 2007, the government decided to set up "national hasbara headquarters" in the Prime Minister's Office, which would coordinate the operations of all elements in the field. In the decision, the government devoted a chapter to the Arabic hasbara issue, stating that a comprehensive policy would be formed within 60 days from the appointment of a hasbara chief.

 

A hasbara chief was appointed, but a comprehensive policy has yet to be formed. The comptroller did find a ray of light, however: As part of the preparations for Operation Cast Lead, the national hasbara headquarters came up with a list of professional spokespeople for briefings in Arabic.

 

Referring to this matter, Lindenstrauss wrote that the Prime Minister's Office should speed up the appointment of a person in charge of "governmental hasbara for Arab population", which has been taking more than two years.

 

Radio broadcasts faulty

The comptroller found failures in Arabic PR in the Foreign Ministry as well. He discovered that the ministry did not implement a government decision from July 2007 to reinforce the Arabic media department.

 

Moreover, Lindenstrauss said, there has been a significant retreat in the department's abilities, as a result of a decrease in the manning of existing positions. The comptroller noted that in light of the great importance of effectively operating the Arab media department, the Foreign Ministry must speed up its restoration.

 

The comptroller also looked into Israeli media outlets in Arabic and discovered that radio broadcasts to residents of the Gaza Strip have not been improved since the 2002 report, including during Operation Cast Lead.

 

He found a similar situation in radio broadcasts to target audiences in the West Bank and southern Lebanon in particular, and to target audiences in all of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt in general, and in other Arab countries as well. In addition, the Israeli television's programs in Arabic only reach a small number of Arab-speaking viewers. According to the comptroller, the State's hasbara abilities have been damaged.

 

Lindestrauss concluded that "hasbara is one of the main components in the national efforts at times of emergency in order to achieve the country's strategic diplomatic-security purpose. The State's hasbara in Arabic and national media outlets in this language are extremely important for this matter, and in light of their vitality, solutions must be found for times of emergency.

 

"The government, through the ministries in charge of this matter, must work to stop the intolerable foot-dragging in terms of a crucial improvement of broadcasts in the Arabic language both to the Arab world and to residents of the Gaza Strip and Judea and Samaria, and to Arabic speakers in Israel."

 

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