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Israelis give gov't a failing grade in public diplomacy

Israelis gave the country a failing grade in public diplomacy (Hasbara), particularly on the international stage, according to a new report from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University.

The study, published ahead of an upcoming conference, noted that most Israelis (61.2%) said they would support Israel on social media during a military conflict, such as the recent Operation Guardian of the Walls conflict between Israel and Hamas. 

However, that conflict was partially waged in the field of public diplomacy over social media. In fact, only one-fifth (19.4%) of the Israeli public actually thinks the true confrontation with Hamas took place on the battlefield. In addition, nearly half (43.9%) of all Israelis thought that neither Israel nor Hamas won the conflict.

Despite this, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit continues to hold the highest degree of trust regarding the military and security information. Further, an overwhelming majority of Israelis (80%) support the use of censorship in matters of security. Despite this, nearly half of the Israeli public (44.9%) think that a policy regarding ambiguity surrounding Israeli military actions - such as IAF activity in Syria - is harmful to national security.

The study also found that social media has become more influential in Israel than traditional media outlets. In particular, Facebook is seen as the most used outlet when it comes to news about political and security issues, dominating all other media platforms by a considerable margin (41.2%). 

However, responses differed between Jewish and Arab respondents, with almost half (47.1%) of Arabs saying social media was most influential and with Jewish Israelis first ranking TV channels (27.4%), social media (23.7%) and then news sites (20%). 

The full study will be released at the upcoming INSS conference from October 24-25.