January 24, 2011

Public Diplomacy- Cure For Anti-Semitism?

Since I am an amateur of Public Diplomacy I decided to peruse the net and see what I could find to catch my eye. One of the first things I came across was an article about anti-Semitism in Europe. After going further into my search I was able to find several articles about a report that was recently published by the Isreali Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein regarding anti-Semitism worldwide. After looking at a few sparse articles my first thought was that the framing of these articles was very interesting. Two of the main points of the report were that 1) anti-Semitism attacks had decreased in 2010 worldwide and 2) France had the worst case of anti-Semitism in the world. Now, depending on where the article was posted the framing of the story was never the same. One website did manage to get both of the main facts into the article, but while the title focuses on France being the most dangerous place for Jews, the article barely mentions the fact that France, along with Holland, Belgium and Sweden are countries where Jews face the most danger (all in one sentence, actually).

So why all the hate? Well it looks like it’s a few issues. First, people are still upset about “Operation Cast Lead”, in which Isreali forces began to bomb the Gaza strip during a time when there was a supposed cease-fire between the Palestinians and Israelis. After this time there was a rise in Western Europe of anti-Semitism (but the situation begs the question, from me at least, by whom?? The article doesn’t say and that’s for another blog).

The article also states that social media have become outlets for anti-Semitic action through websites such as twitter and facebook. So what does the minister plan to do about this situation from a PD standpoint? The chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel said, “In light of the delegitimization wars carried out against Israel around the world, the Jewish Agency has doubled the number of its emissaries at campuses in North America," Natan Sharansky said. "There are currently 500,000 Jewish students in North America. The de-legitimization campaign is directed against those Jewish students and affects their ties to Israel."

Hmm. Ok, but the main point of the report had nothing to do with North American Jewish Students, who are these emissaries and is there a European branch to this Agency that needs to be involved? I am no PD guru, so if I am off the mark here please enlighten me. But the first thing I can think of to fix this problem of Anti-Semitism in Europe is to… I don’t know… send some emissaries to Europe! I realize that the U.S. government has ties to Israel and that the U.S. as an ally is a powerful force indeed, but it is more than a little shady to putting all ones eggs in the wrong geographically located basket. Perhaps there are more prongs to this PD approach not elaborated in this article, and for the sake of the Jewish Agency for Israel I hope so, because ethnic hatred of any kind is abhorrent and I hope they get this sorted out quickly.

Additional link to website: http://www.ejpress.org/article/news/eastern_europe/48539

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