Hasbara (layman public diplomacy / advocating for Israel online), Demon Or Agent For Change And Education.
First of all, the meaning of Hasbara! The Hebrew meaning of the word Hasbara (הסברה) is “explanation”, not propaganda. (The term “propaganda” in Hebrew is תעמולה).
So, there is nothing sinister about the word. It’s just a regular word in the Hebrew language. So, if I explain that Israel was reconstituted as a modern State in 1948, what’s the problem? I’m explaining what happened. However, if anyone says that the Israelis kidnap and murder Arab children, as some have in the tragic case of the young Arab boy, Qais Abu Ramila, recently found drowned in a rain-filled pool of water, then an explanation is required to let the world know what really happened.
His family initially said he was kidnapped while going to a convenience store, but later reversed that claim, according to the Haaretz daily. So, that’s why it’s absolutely necessary for Israel to have an organized system of informing the Press and Social Media about the truth of certain events. If truthful explanations were not given, ugly rumors would spread, perhaps leading to violence.
Governments all over the world have ‘lobby groups’ whose sole task is to present their government’s policies vis-a-vis global warming, or economic policy, foreign policy, and so on. There are even global companies who employ professional advocacy to advance their interests. So, why is it so dubious and strange for Israel to do the same?
One of the aims of Hasbara is to counter the anti-Semitism that Jews have suffered for 1,000s of years, through explanation. The demonization of Israel and the way the word Zionism has been transformed into a by-word for ‘evil’ justifies the existence of Hasbara! The cartoon at the beginning of this article is Hasbara in nature. An image everyone can understand without need for translation, showing how the BDS movement advocates policies reminiscent of the Nazi era: that is, denying the Jews the right to carry on lawful business. That’s an explanation – not propaganda!
Angus McFarlane is a contributor with Quora, with permission we printed an answer he gave to someone questioning what Hasbara was.