From Hasbara to Consciousness
Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization, headed by Sigalit Ben Hayoun, hosted a webinar on going beyond Hasbara (Hebrew: הַסְבָּרָה; which has no direct English translation but roughly means "explaining") to fighting for people's consciousness.
The webinar panel members were:
Joanna Landau - expert in countries branding, author of the bestselling book "Ethical Tribing: Connecting the Next Generation to Israel in the Digital Era", founder and president of "Vibe Israel", member of the initial core of Tel Aviv University's next-generation leadership community.
Noam Manella - digital consciousness researcher, lecturer at Reichman University, and an alumnus of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tel Aviv University.
The panel moderator:
Dr. Meyrav Shoham - lecturer in the Department of Communication at Tel Aviv University Faculty of Social Sciences.
Joanna Landau noted that:
"Apart from Israel, there is no country that manages its entire image and communication with the world by explaining its positions and justifying its existence. Managing a country's image is usually done through branding and marketing its strengths, similar to marketing a product or company. Hasbara is necessary when there is a crisis, for example when there is a war. But even now, one must understand that a person does not change his mind easily, and certainly not from facts and arguments that contradict his basic position. That is why it is important to focus on arousing emotion and empathy towards Israel, not necessarily demanding that others agree with our positions. Empathy - for example for the abductees and their families - allows the ordinary person on the street from the world to see Israel in a more positive light and to feel at ease with supporting its right to act tirelessly for the release of the abductees, including by military means."
"This war will not last forever. We must start thinking about "the day after". Usually, we don't do Hasbara, we don't explain our righteousness, but we brand and market our strengths as a people and a country. This is a professional process that every country in the last 20 years has invested in: Israel must develop a long-term communication strategy to manage its reputation in the world's public opinion, based on the unique spirit of our people, which we saw in the times of the Coronavirus, and we see again now. There is an extraordinary mutual responsibility, uncompromising entrepreneurship, and resilience that is unparalleled in the world. Our spirit cannot be broken, and we will come out of this damn war stronger, more united, and more relevant to the world than ever."
Noam Manella stated: "Israel is fighting for public opinion and doing Hasbara, and Hamas is fighting for public sentiment and creating consciousness." He added that "Hamas' theater of terror is crafted to create emotional confusion in the viewers ."
To the question of what can be done on the individual level, Manella advised "Don't be spokesmen for Israel; just be. Talk about your feelings and experiences (anger, compassion, empathy, confusion, helplessness) within the situation."
Dr. Shoham pointed out that:
"When we want to make an impact, we need to understand who our target audience is and what is important to them, emotionally, cognitively, and value-wise. Whether we work at the state or individual level - where can people connect emotionally? What is meaningful to them? If we crack this we can move from Hasbara to consciousness."
Tel Aviv University Alumni Organization - A World-Changing Community