There was a representative from the Israel Foreign Ministry there who gave a presentation on Israel’s image in the world, and “branding” Israel.
Basically how do people think about Israel, not politically, but with its culture and people, what do people think when they hear “Israel.”
There was a focus group done of about 10 groups of 5 people (non-Jews), they were put in a room (that’s usually where they do focus groups) and were asked to just start saying names of countries, any that came to mind.
Israel was usually later on in the group and most of the time was helped along by the mention of another country (“Lebanon-oh what’s south of that?”)
They then grouped all of the countries in alphabetical order in groups of 10. The moderator would come in a say “Oh, let’s pick this one.” And “randomly” pick the one with Israel in it.
The people in the focus group were then presented with this scenario: there’s a block with ten houses on it, and each of these countries represents a house, and there’s a party going on in that house. They were then asked a few questions about what the house would be like. What did the house look like? Is it welcoming? Etc.
They showed the video of the group talking about the house representing Italy and you can see the people very relaxed describing the lush garden’s they have in Italy, pasta, and overall a relaxing environment.
When they were asked about Israel the room tensed up and you could see a dramatic shift in the participants body language. When asked if they would feel welcomed there, the room was pretty unanimous, “no.”
A very interesting remark by an African-American guy in the room was, “I don’t think I would be welcome because of the color of my skin.”
Israel is (as far as I know) the only country in the world to bring a group of African’s out of their country of origin, not for persecution, but to bring them to a First World country as free people. Things of that nature are really not an issue in Israel. Even if someone wants to say that Israel is racist against Arabs, true there may be individual’s who are anti-Arab, but the is far from the government policy, and I think also for a good chunk of the population (I have no data, so I’m basing this on personal experience). But anti-Black sentiments are extremely rare if they even exist at all.
Anyways, the point of the presentation is that Israel does not have a positive image with the world-but these people don’t hate Israel. 70% of them support us politically, the point of this group was that their image of Israel is based around one thing and one thing that keeps getting repeated and repeated by too many representatives from Israel-the conflict.
Not to tone that down, but Israel has so many more things of interest to the people of the world, like all of their innovations in hi-tech, medicine, agriculture (baked goods and shwarma) but people in America don’t hear that. All they hear about is “the conflict.”
And that’s what we as blogger’s are trying to do, bring a positive life (or at the very least a “real life” account of what it’s really like here. That’s all I’m trying to do.
Oh and another point that was brought up from the group when asked what Israel's house looked like the main word was 'cement.' Also "barbed wire" and "iron bars" as well as "no trees or anything green."
Well I'm going to disprove that one and show that Israel is GREEN! But I will admit that cement is necessary usually for sidewalks...