A private, low-profile ‘public diplomacy’ outfit is setting out to train ‘Secret Hasbara Agents.’ But don’t worry, it’s not propaganda.
A private Israeli hasbara – or “public diplomacy” – organization on Wednesday put out one of the weirdest responses yet to the incitement campaign by far-right group Im Tirzu of two weeks ago.
The original Im Tirzu campaign described Israeli human rights advocates as “planted” agents serving foreign agendas because the organizations they work for receive funds from European governments.
The response ad published on Wednesday called for — presumably right-wing — Israelis to be “planted” inside the “plants,” a reference to the human rights organizations Im Tirzu put in its cross-hairs.
The ad says that following Im Tirzu’s report, the “Centre for Public Diplomacy and Hasbara” is organizing a “reprisal action” against the human rights groups. It wants to encourage people to apply for jobs at the human rights organizations in order to “oppose the dissemination of their lies.”
Yes. The Centre for Public Diplomacy & Hasbara runs a program, according to its website, to train “Secret Hasbara Agents,” who become “certified” – it’s not clear by whom – to the “Secret Hasbara Agent Network.”
Participants of the course will be sent on “missions abroad.” Moreover, the website promises they will earn a “big reputation as graduates of an elite, prestigious and impressive program from the Centre…”
The “secret agent network” and the ad for the “reprisal operation” marked “top secret” were published on the organization’s web page, as well as its founder’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The organization is the brainchild of an attorney named Davidi Hermelin. The “contact us” section of the website lists his mobile phone number. Hermelin has served as chair of the Young Likud committee, he made a run for Knesset, and consults for certain government agencies.
Asked by phone what exactly the concept of “secret agents” means, Hermelin explained to +972 Magazine that his approach is not to engage in hasbara proper or even necessarily Israel-related forums. Instead, the workshops offer participants a range of topics about Israel that they can select for training.
The courses “stress complexity,” he emphasizes. They are not trying to convince participants or their future audiences of any given position. He just wants them to know the facts on any given issue, and have the skills to convey their own ideas.
His example is a lengthy...Read More