Thursday, July 28, 2011

Obama Administration Unsuccessful So Far To Buy Israeli Opinion

An article in Haaretz today reports: U.S. report recommends ending loan guarantees to Israel at end of 2011

Besides the fact that another article from Haarezt reports Israel doesn't see U.S. limiting loan guarantee--I thought this part was interest
The Tel Aviv embassy faces intense challenges, generated by Israel's current government, negative public opinion toward President Obama, a sensitive political environment and a vibrant media scene, the report says. 
It finds that the embassy's annual public relations budget, intended to influence public opinion in Israel, is about $7 million a year, or roughly NIS 25 million.
Gee, I wonder if the US embassy tries this in the Arab countries in the Middle East...


Of course, the US is not the only one to try to influence opinion in Israel. Europe has spent money for years to influence Israeli opinion. Back in 2006, I wrote I'm OK, Euro-K, about various European efforts to influence events in Israel:
Back in 2002, CAMERA reported:

The EU reportedly provides much of Beilin's personal funding. According to an investigative report by Yoav Yitzchaki published in the Feb. 8, 2002 edition of the Israeli daily Ma'ariv, Beilin's salary is largely provided by the European Union (EU), as are his travel expenses. Beilin draws an annual salary of 350,000-400,000 NIS ( $80,000-$90,000) from the EU-funded Economic Cooperation Foundation (ECF) which he established.
Not satisfied with the hundreds of millions they pour into the West Bank in order to support'President' Abbas, Europe pours money into groups to thwart Israel's government.

Glick noted that besides Beilin

In addition, it [the EU] funds organizations like Rabbis for Human Rights, which recently participated in organizing delegations of foreign activists who were brought here to stand in front of IDF tanks and attempt to force their way through IDF roadblocks.
The Jerusalem Post reported in 2001, when the destination of EU donations to Israel came to light:

European Union officials have defended the support they provide to Israeli leftist organizations, including Peace Now, the Four Mothers, and MK Roman Bronfman's Impact project.
MKs on the right have criticized Europe's intervention in Israeli politics following an investigation by Ma'ariv journalist Yoav Yitzhak that revealed that the European Union provides hundreds of thousands of euros a year to Israeli non-profit organizations affiliated with the Left.
"The European Union has always held a policy of supporting non-governmental organizations that work for peace, democracy, and human rights in the civil societies around the Mediterranean," an EU official told The Jerusalem Post. "The Israeli government is fully aware of this funding and has never complained about it. The EU has never provided financial support for political parties," he stressed.
..."We don't look at the political complexion of the people who apply to us," the official said. "We look at the project and if it meets our criteria, it is a candidate for our support." However, he said, "We don't support projects under the EU People to People program that do not support the peace process." [emphasis added]
No mention at the time as to just what their criteria are--or how many other democracies they are interfering in.
No wonder the uproar over the Israeli Knesset bill to make external influence on Israel transparent.

The efforts do not seem to have been too successful--and neither have US efforts been so far:
The reports portray a problematic picture of the missions' performance in Israel.

The Tel Aviv embassy faces intense challenges, generated by Israel's current government, negative public opinion toward President Obama, a sensitive political environment and a vibrant media scene, the report says.

It finds that the embassy's annual public relations budget, intended to influence public opinion in Israel, is about $7 million a year, or roughly NIS 25 million.

Despite its diplomatic wording, the report implies the Tel Aviv embassy has totally failed in its public relations efforts during the Obama term. "Much of the Israeli public is suspicious of U.S. efforts to promote negotiations aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state," it says. "The lively and fractious press often misinterprets American policies."
That won't stop the Obama administration from trying, but it's is good to see Israel deciding on its own what is in its best interests.

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