Friday, February 19, 2010

February 19

"Represent us well."

--Translation of little stickers, said in Hebrew, affixed to the fuselage just to the right of the cabin door of El Al airplanes; image from

“Big Brother is Watching You.”

--from Orwell’s 1984


Where Karen Hughes fell flat, Clinton shines - Preeti Aroon, Foreign Policy: "When Karen Hughes, George W. Bush's undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, went to Dar al-Hekma College for women in Saudi Arabia in 2005, she was challenged by audience members when she said she hoped they'd one day be able to drive and 'fully participate in society.' When an audience member took issue by saying, 'The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't happy. Well, we're all pretty happy,' the room filled with applause.

Contrast that with the rock-star reception Secretary Clinton received when she visited Dar al-Hekma College on Tuesday, where students flocked for her autograph and she was described as the world's 'most powerful and popular woman.' Although Clinton expressed support for women's education and participation in economic development and asked to hear the students' views on women's rights, the audience queried her about foreign policy and security, not women's issues. (The New York Times did report that the college seemed to strictly control who got to lob questions.) Still, maybe for female students at elite Saudi colleges, the freedom to get a driver's license and wear what you want in public aren't the top issues on their minds." Image from

Clinton at a town hall meeting in Doha Al Jazeera - Lena, Global Chaos: "Hillary Clinton speaking at the town hall meeting in Education City in Doha, so-sponsored by Al Jazeera and Qatar Foundation. A good example of America's highest diplomat engaging in direct public diplomacy. Interesting to see how she is trying to spin the Iran story, smoothly swaying away from the Palestinian issue on which the moderator apparently wants to focus. See my recent post for a further discussion on the matter."

Secretary Clinton, on Arabic channels, talks about Iran - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting

South and Central Asia: Remarks At Dhaka University - TMC Net: "South and Central Asia: Remarks At Dhaka University Wed, 17 Feb 2010 Remarks At Dhaka University Judith A. McHale Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Dhaka, Bangladesh February 7, 2010."

Taking questions from Bangladesh - Chris Scott, One: "When you have a second, check out this great post on DipNote, the State Department’s blog. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale last week hosted a web chat with students from all over Bangladesh where she fielded questions on a variety of issues.

Most of us are aware of the vast potential of the internet and communications technology, but it’s not that often we see it employed in such a useful and interesting manner." McHale image from

Responding To Natural Disasters With Humanitarian Aid: Implications For Public Diplomacy - Tori, Tori Horton: Exploring public diplomacy, new technology, education, NGOs, and communication: "Humanitarian aid is a powerful tool for significant and positive good-will --however the shift in public diplomacy must be the aftereffect of such aid. Both governments and humanitarian aid programs must vigilantly protect themselves from slandering or false motives that can accompany and dim even the best of efforts. To be successful, humanitarian aid must save lives in the emergency hours after a crisis when the media is watching, as well as build stability in the years to follow. In terms of public diplomacy, the situation in Haiti represents another opportunity for the United States to remind the world of its tremendous capacity for good and of the generous and concerned global citizens that reside within its borders. Hopefully this crisis will spark engagement that lasts for at least a generation and dramatically changes the standard of living for Haitians in the future. A Short List of American Relief Groups in Haiti: The America Red Cross Hope for Haiti Now Clinton Bush Haiti Fund Musician Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti Direct Relief International Salvation Army."

"President of Alhurra Television" will "preside over" (ring?) NASDAQ closing bell - Kim Andrew Elliott reporting on International Broadcasting:

"Brian Conniff, President of Alhurra Television, will visit NASDAQ MarketSite in the heart of Times Square and preside over the NASDAQ Closing Bell. ... Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 3:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET. [2045-2100 UTC]" Alhurra press release, 17 February 2010. [Elliott comment:] Brian Coniff is actually president of Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) Inc, parent entity of Alhurra and Radio Sawa, part of BBG. Image from

On Smith-Mundt, Part III - Matt Armstrong, "The following is Part III of a discussion between Jeremy Berkowitz and Matt Armstrong on Jeremy's paper "Raising the Iron Curtain on Twitter: why the United States must revise the Smith-Mundt Act to improve public diplomacy" (PDF, 415kb). Part I is Matt Armstrong's critique of the paper and Part II is Jeremy's response."

Israel's Unofficial Ambassadors - Renee Ghert-Zand, Truth, Praise and help: "Just at the moment Israelis heading 'l’chul' (that’s an acronym for 'l’chutz la’aretz,' meaning outside of Israel) get seated in their airplane seats and try to relax and do some 'nikui rosh' (head clearing), they are now being handed a pamphlet full of information on how to supposedly make them public relations agents for their country. Sure, many Israelis are fed up with how the world views them and their country, but does one really want to have to be a semi-official representative of the good ‘ole blue and white while on vacation with the family or focusing on the work of a business trip?"

Once Again, Israel Shoots Itself in Both Legs - Ami Kaufman, Huffington Post:

"Just today, The Minister of Public Information and Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, the guy who's basically in charge of Israeli Hasbara, told Prime Minister Netanyahu he's swamped. Apparently, he's so busy dealing with the repercussions of the Goldstone report and with the diplomatic effort to get sanctions against Iran, he asked Netanyahu to relieve him of some of his other duties. Meanwhile, Edelstein managed yesterday to launch his new campaign, an ambitious attempt to enlist basically every citizen into the Foreign Ministry, by training the common Israeli in how to answer the tough questions posed while travelling abroad, or, G-d forbid, by some lunatic leftist who happens to be against the occupation (how dare they!).' The campaign is now all over the place: Radio, TV, internet and more. As you can probably imagine from the tone of my words thus far, I'm against such adventures. I prefer changing the policy itself to something a tad more, how shall I say, 'correct'. It seems a bit more reasonable than explaining ridiculous existing policies like... 'settlements'". Image from

Israelis to become goodwill ambassadors - Jewish Telegraphic Agency - ‎ "A new campaign will turn Israeli citizens into goodwill ambassadors for Israel abroad. The Ministry for Public Diplomacy and the Diaspora has started an initiative to teach Israelis how to present Israel positively. The initiative includes pamphlets given to Israeli passengers leaving Ben Gurion International Airport, a Web site and training workshops across the country. The trainees will include ordinary citizens, as well as businessmen, celebrities, athletes, youth groups participants and politicians, among others. 'To counter the vast sums of money invested by Arab states in propaganda against Israel, we have to mobilize our human capital, meaning the residents of Israel,' Information Minister Yuli Edelstein said in a statement. A poll commissioned by the ministry found that 91 percent of the 495 Jewish Israelis surveyed believed that Israel has a bad or very bad image abroad. Some 85 percent said they would want to help represent Israel when they are abroad. Three million Israelis go abroad each year."

Israel wants tourists to do PR - Ben Harris, Jewish Telegraphic Agency: For a while now, El Al airplanes have had little stickers affixed to the fuselage just to the right of the cabin door: "Represent us well," it says in Hebrew (or something like that), a little reminder to Israelis traveling abroad not to make asses of themselves.

A similar principle is at work in the news that Israel's Ministry for Public Diplomacy is launching a campaign to recruit Israeli tourists to be state propagandists. Depending on your view, it's either a stroke of genius or a desperate attempt by a country that has seemingly thrown everything at the wall in an effort to resuscitate its flagging international image." Image from

Questions for Israel that it cannot avoid - National: "Israel has some explaining to do, but not the sort that the country’s foreign ministry is contemplating. It thinks that Israel’s increasingly negative image can be countered with better public relations, that negative stereotypes of Israelis can be reversed by having more people tell Israel’s side of the story. But sometimes public diplomacy falls short. The murder of Mahmoud al Mabhouh has yet to be conclusively tied to Israel but the evidence of its guilt is swiftly building. Israel cannot continue to stay silent on the issue; questions must be answered."

Calling all Jews, please help us sell the vibrant state of Israel - Antony Loewenstein blog:

"Israel’s liberals have become politically invisible. The country is therefore increasingly run by the right and far-right. Hooray for them. In light of the Jewish state’s shocking global image (aside from the political elites who love its plucky nature and war against Palestinians), the Israeli government has a wonderful idea (it’s truly hard to read this and not laugh): The Israeli government, deeply worried about the country’s declining international image, began a campaign on Wednesday to turn every Israeli — and ultimately every Jew — into a traveling public relations agent. ... UPDATE: Just read the response by Americans for Peace Now to this latest initiative: Unfortunately, what the Ministry of Information offers its amateur ambassadors in the way of explaining Israel’s complex challenges is appalling. It’s a collection of half-truths (if not worse), which in most cases do not address the real, piercing questions that Israeli strategists have to deal with." Image from

Edelstein Drops Broadcasting Task for Information Role - Arutz Sheva, "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu approved on Thursday, a request by Public Information and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli-Yoel Edelstein to be released from responsibility over reforms in the financially-troubled Israel Broadcasting Authority. Edelstein was recently involved in selection of a chairman for the authority, as well as selecting candidates for its governing body. The Prime Minister's Office announced that Edelstein would be joining the public information efforts for sanctions against Iran's nuclear development program and the effort against the Goldstone report on last winter's Cast Lead counter-terror operation in Gaza."

APCO, FF & PLO - Paul Rockower, Levantine: "I had a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Yes, really. As part of my directed research. Dr. Jadou was on her first post abroad and offered her perspective on Palestinian public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy, which I will write about for PD Mag and my project." Image from

LaganaHamilton, New Washington Public Relations Firm, Helps Navigate Today's Challenging Media Environment - press release, Earth Times: "Donald R. Hamilton and Gregory Lagana announced today the establishment of LaganaHamilton, LLC, a Washington-area communications, public relations and marketing firm. ... As a Foreign Service officer, Mr. Hamilton served in Lima, San Salvador, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, Santo Domingo, and Washington. In Washington, he directed public diplomacy activities for all of Latin America for the United States Information Agency and served as communications director for Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism L. Paul Bremer and Drug Czar William Bennett. After leaving the Foreign Service, Mr. Hamilton was deputy director and executive director of the Oklahoma City Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT). He also spent year with the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, where he oversaw a massive public opinion polling effort. Prior to government service, Mr. Hamilton worked as a journalist. Mr. Lagana was also a Foreign Service officer, with postings in Madrid, San Salvador, Quito, Rome, and Washington. In Washington, he was director of press and public affairs for Latin America at the Department of State and deputy director for Central American affairs. He was associate director of global communications at the White House from 2001 to 2005, and from 2005 to 2009 he was senior vice president for communications and marketing at DynCorp International, a government-services contractor. "

AmCham Vietnam Breakfast with Tim Love, Omicron CEO Asia Pacific India Middle East Africa – American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam: "Tim Love is Chief Executive Officer of Omnicom’s Asia Pacific India Middle East Africa (APIMA) region. ...

He has had numerous articles published from his insights, and presented an array of papers and speeches on globalization, and consumer and cultural understanding. He has been a guest lecturer at many venues worldwide−including Oxford, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia universities, the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Security at Ohio State, the United Nations Business Council and the Tokyo Foreign Correspondence Club." Love image from article


In Afghan Campaign, Propaganda Matters Most - Adnan R. Khan: AOL News: The fog of war has settled over Afghanistan's southern Helmand province. Since the start of the massive joint NATO-Afghan operation on Feb.13 to dislodge the Taliban from Marjah, reports on civilian casualties and tactics have conflicted as a matter of course.The propaganda campaign promises to remain at the forefront of the fight over this sprawling district set amid poppy fields and desert, one of the Taliban's last Afghan strongholds U.S. and NATO troops are having a difficult time distinguishing Taliban fighters from Afghan civilians. Image: Here, an Afghan soldier looks at village leaders leaving a meeting Tuesday.

US Media Replays Iraq Fiasco on Iran - Robert Parry, Consortium News:

Without doubt, there were many unsavory aspects to Saddam Hussein as there are with Iran’s Ahmadinejad. However, the U.S. media's depictions of the two leaders lacked nuance, with only the most extreme and unflattering interpretations of their words and actions allowed. In short, the Times, the Post and nearly all other U.S. news outlets have behaved more like propaganda vehicles than professional journalism organizations. The anti-Iran bias, like the earlier anti-Iraq bias, is most notable on the editorial and op-ed pages but also pervades the news columns. Image from

Pentagon Bracing for a Snap Offensive Against Venezuela - It is already obvious that the comeback of the right in several Latin American countries and the reversion to the ruthless liberal economic course that ensued are meeting with widespread opposition and that the rise of new populist regimes in the region is only a matter of time.

Mexico and Peru, the countries where F. Calderon and A. Garcia were propelled to power by the US financial and propaganda support regardless of how the poorest strata of the populations felt about the developments, are the prime candidates. Image from article

Review: Ellsberg - 'The Most Dangerous Man' - San Francisco Chronicle: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Documentary. Narrated by Daniel Ellsberg. Directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith. (Not rated. 94 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

It tells the story of an era in American political history, the pattern of lies that got the United States into Vietnam and the mix of lies and propaganda that kept us there. Image from

Nazi Propaganda Story 'Jew Suess' Earns Boos in Berlin: Film - Catherine Hickley – Bloomberg: Oskar Roehler is taking some risks with his movie “Jud Suess” (“Jew Suess”), based on the true story of a Nazi-era actor who agreed, under pressure, to play the title role in an infamous anti-Semitic propaganda movie. Any of these risks could explain why the movie was booed at its Berlin Film Festival press screening. The 1940 “Jud Suess” is banned in Germany, so Roehler remakes parts of it for his film. He also subjects his audience to some distressing Nazi-era anti-Semitic rhetoric and has given his movie the same title as the original, though with the German subtitle “Film ohne Gewissen” (Film Without Conscience). When the 1940 movie premieres at the Venice Film Festival, it is warmly received, with even the young Michelangelo Antonioni praising Marian’s performance.

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