The Israeli Community in the United States: A Public Diplomacy Asset for Israel JUF Chicago/JTA

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http://www.inss.org.il/publication/israeli-community-united-states-public-diplomacy-asset-israel/

The erosion of support for Israel among the liberal American public and the positioning of Israel at the heart of the political dispute between the Republicans and the Democrats could undermine the special relationship between Israel and the United States in the medium and long term. To maintain the alliance between the two countries, Israel’s positive image among the American public must be strengthened, which will help reverse the trend of eroding support among the liberal target audience. The Israeli community in the United States is an asset that has great potential to contribution to realizing this goal. The community includes a large number of “field players” embedded in both Israeli and American societies, who can serve as a bridge between them. This memorandum proposes a model for the establishment and management of an Israeli community that will promote Israeli activity aimed at bridging the gap between the State of Israel and the American public.

Executive Summary

1. The erosion of support for Israel among the American liberal population and the placing of Israel at the heart of the political controversy between the Republicans and Democrats could endanger the special relationship between Israel and the United States in the medium and long term.

2. Maintaining the special relations between the two countries entails solidifying Israel’s positive image in the eyes of the American public so that it can work to reverse the erosion of support among the liberal target population.

3. The Israeli community in the United States is an asset that has the potential to contribute significantly toward achieving this goal: It includes a large number of “field players” who are involved in both Israeli and American society and who can bridge between the two.

4. In the interest of tapping this unexploited potential, a model is proposed here for building and managing an Israeli community that will promote a pro-Israeli agenda aimed at bridging between Israel and the American public. This model requires the strengthening of the Israeli community on three levels:
• The personal level: Imparting knowledge, tools, and skills for improving the messages and conducting dialogues with different target groups;
• The community level: Creating a mechanism that will encourage the community’s involvement and guide the activity on the basis of a clearly defined approach, while enhancing the sense of community;
• The intercommunity level: Holding joint forums with the American Jewish community and other pro-Israeli groups while also engaging in learning processes with the leaderships of other Israeli communities.

5. The State of Israel has an important role to play in realizing the potential contribution of the Israeli community. This role entails boosting the community’s activism and improving the learning processes of the pro-Israeli network:
• Establishing a framework to help the pro-Israeli community conduct dialogues and partnerships with the neutral groups—in coordination with the already existing framework for defensive activity;
• Imparting professional knowledge to those active in public diplomacy;
• Adopting a feedback mechanism for assessing and improving the pro-Israeli activity as a whole.

6. Promoting a policy to encourage an Israeli presence in settings that are more prone to adopt anti-Israeli messages (youth, elite universities, and social science and humanities faculties as well as Middle Eastern Studies departments).

7. Presenting the insights to the decision makers in Israel through an advisory mechanism for the struggle against the delegitimization threat – a mechanism that does not currently exist.

October 11, 2018