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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Israel's terrible Internet hasbara

Last July I quoted an Omedia article highly critical of the IDF's information policies. At least by judging from the website, it appears to be even worse nowadays - and the IDF is not alone in its horrendous record of hasbara, and the Israeli government's web efforts highlight these shortcomings all too well.

The IDF web site's English section is a joke. There is nothing about current operations, no press releases, no substantive articles describing its philosophy - almost nothing. And there is an empty video section. In the era of YouTube, this is unforgivable. Even the photograph section is impossible to navigate in Firefox and woefully out of date.

It's Hebrew section seems marginally better - at least there are some videos - but in general it is just as hard to navigate, and the world audience is not conversant in Hebrew.

The IDF is not the only Israeli organization that is failing in its obligation to tell the world its story. Even the Foreign Ministry website - better than the IDF's, to be sure - has stories on its front page that are months old. Its video section is sparse as well, with no indication of even what year the videos were created.

Even the IsRealli blog, which was launched with much fanfare a year or so ago by the Israel Consulate in New York, is being updated only once or twice a week.

Compare these with the Israel Insider website, the video site Israel Up Close, the excellent Israel21c site and its associated blog Israelity. These are professional, attractive and updated sites that do what Israel's official websites do not - inform the world about what is really going on and show a side of Israel that is never seen on the news.

The talent exists for Israel to do a better job in Internet hasbara. The poor track record needs to be improved, and quickly.

UPDATE: Two commenters mentioned Israelplug.com and it looks like a very good and entertaining site.