Entangled in a cauldron of hate, Israel resorts to its ordinary citizens to help mend the regime’s image shattered by charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during its last year Gaza onslaught.
Tel Aviv will launch a campaign initiated by Information and Diaspora Minister Yuli Edelstein, training ordinary people to represent Israel outside the occupied West Bank and present a positive message to the world.
"In the light of Israel’s negative image in the world …we decided to give Israelis who go abroad tools and tips to help them deal with the attacks on Israel in their conversations with people, media appearances and lectures before wide audiences," The Jerusalem Post quoted Edelstein as saying.
The initiative Tsva Hasbara LeYisrael, the Israeli Public Diplomacy Forces, includes distribution of pocket pamphlets at Ben-Gurion Airport and launch of the new Web site, masbirim.gov.il.
Varied groups, ranging from politicians through businessmen and tour guides to youth group delegations and ordinary Israelis, will also be invited to training workshops to be held across Israel.
The decision comes after an opinion poll sponsored by the ministry revealed 91 percent of some 495 Jewish Israelis questioned believed that Israel had a bad or very bad image abroad.
The survey also showed 80 percent thought Israel was internationally considered overly aggressive and 30 percent said the country had an unfriendly image while 26 percent thought the world saw Israel as undeveloped.
Israel’s occupation-tainted image suffered serious blows after a UN report cast light on numerous counts of war crimes committed by Israeli soldiers during the deadly offensive on Gaza, which killed more than 1,400 Palestinians — mostly civilians.
The UN Human Rights Council’s independent fact-finding commission on the Gaza war charged Israel with deliberate targeting of civilians, using Palestinians as human shields and the killing of fleeing civilians who in some cases were even waving a white flag.
In January, Israel submitted an official report to the United Nations and admitted that its military had "endangered human life" through the use of internationally forbidden phosphorus munitions against Gazans.
According to the document, Israeli forces fired white phosphorus bombs at a heavily populated area on January 15, 2009 in Gaza, damaging a UN Relief and Works Agency compound.