Hasbara 2.0: Israel’s Public Diplomacy in the Digital Age

Aouragh, M. 2016. Hasbara 2.0: Israel’s Public Diplomacy in the Digital Age. Middle East Critique. 25 (3), pp. 271-297. https://doi.org/10.1080/19436149.2016.1179432

TitleHasbara 2.0: Israel’s Public Diplomacy in the Digital Age
TypeJournal article
AuthorsAouragh, M.
Abstract

The Internet has been a counter-public space for Palestinian liberation politics for over a decade, and digital technologies have become an increasingly important tool for solidarity groups across the world. However, the Israeli state and Zionist supporters worldwide are harnessing the same technologies and platforms to mobilize technology primarily to increase pro-Israel sentiments. The aims of this article are to examine hasbara [Israeli public diplomacy] through an exploration of similar diplomacy programmes; to illustrate how social media have affected the basic algorithms of hasbara; and to probe the assertions of hasbara in the light of pro-Palestinian solidarity. Through a study of public diplomacy, this article critically analyzes hasbara as a site of contestation and a method that is hampered by contradictions. On the one hand, there has been a massive growth in hasbara in recent years—indicated by the increase in funding for it and by its professionalized and centralized character; and on the other hand, hasbara has attracted sharp critiques in Israel for its reputed failures. To understand this contradiction, hasbara must be placed within the context of Israel’s settler-colonialism, which sets the state apart from other ‘post-conflict’ states. This article reviews the methods utilized in hasbara, as well as their readjustment in the context of recent wars. Events in 2014 illustrate that hasbara actually destabilizes Israel’s diplomacy. Online journalism and the suppression of solidarity for Palestine together stimulate more criticism and, in turn, help to shift public opinion. Paradoxically, therefore, adjustments (‘hasbara 2.0’) have underlined the image of Israel as a colonial power engaged in violent occupation.

JournalMiddle East Critique
Journal citation25 (3), pp. 271-297
ISSN1943-6149
Year2016
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscript
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/19436149.2016.1179432
Publication dates
Published online01 Jun 2016
Published01 Jun 2016

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