The New Hasbara

Let’s face it: Israel has a reputation for a less than stellar performance with Hasbara. This is not new; in fact it has existed for a couple of decades regardless of which political party controls the Israeli government. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the college campuses of North America; Montreal, New York, Philly and San Fransisco, in particular, have a well-deserved reputation for being particularly un-hospitable to pro-Israeli messages.

Now come a few new endeavors hoping to change perceptions.

In New York, we have Fuel for Truth, an organization whose mission is to disseminate accurate information about Israel and the Middle East. According to an article in the current issue of New Voices Magazine, FFT has taken a new and creative approach to Hasbara:

“Israel advocacy is a traditionally un-hip cause, lacking the cachet enjoyed on campus by pro-Palestinian activist groups. Fuel For Truth, a non-profit based in New York City, aims to change that by dressing up a straightforward pro-Israel message with cool-kid party hype and militaristic imagery. Through events targeting 18-34 year-olds, the group constructs a preppy subculture where it makes perfect sense to listen to a speech on the threat of radical Islam while standing on the dance floor of a darkened nightclub.

In the six years that Fuel For Truth has existed, the organization has spread its message to thousands of people in the unaffiliated, assimilated, young urban demographic that the group targets. According to (Kat) Guttman (FFT’s Director of Operations), they focus on politically unaffiliated and socially influential individuals. Joe Richards, the group’s founder, targeted this particular bracket after deciding that it was being left behind by advocacy groups and was susceptible to the influence of the media and ill-informed peers. In spite of the commonly cited apathy of the Internet Age, Richards believed these young people could be reached.”

to read the complete article, click here; while you are at it, check out the current issue of New Voices, one of the new cutting edge publications from a New Generation of innovators.

a personal opinion: there is not enough attention being paid to the real life tragedies Israelis face from Palestinian terrorists. So, I would like to introduce our eJewish Philanthropy audience to Gila; an Olah from the D.C. area, who one Friday morning, while shopping for Shabbat, had the misfortune of being at the wrong place at the wrong time:

“I am, of course, neither sad, nor heroic nor particularly victimized. What I am is an “ordinary Joe” who was seriously injured six years ago in a suicide bombing while waiting for a bus at the Machane Yehuda open air market in Jerusalem.”

from her new blog, MY SHRAPNEL: LIFE AS A “POOR, SAD, HEROIC, VICTIM OF TERROR”®; check it out; it’s worth the read.