Israelis are under attack by Palestinians on two fronts, suggests Danny Ayalon, Israel’s former deputy foreign minister and ambassador to the United States.
On one front, the weapons are knives, bombs, and rockets. On the other, the damage is coming from words, images, and lies.
While not as deadly in the short run, the public relations war may be equally important over the long haul, said Ayalon, who will be the featured speaker Sunday, March 13, at the Jewish National Fund’s first Garden State Breakfast, to be held at Congregation B’nai Tikvah in North Brunswick.
Ayalon formerly served as a Knesset member from the right-wing secular Yisrael Beiteinu Party, and as a deputy foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“There is increasing evidence of Palestinian propaganda turning Americans against Israel,” said Ayalon in a phone interview. He cited the United Methodist Church’s recent decision to divest from five Israeli banks as just one example.
“There is a coordinated campaign by Palestinians and their collaborators to mount pressure against Israel in all facets of American society — including African-Americans, Hispanics, evangelical Christians, and even some Jews who do not understand the truth about Israel,” he said.
In his talk, Ayalon, who recently took a part-time position teaching statecraft and public diplomacy at Yeshiva University, plans to call for a “PR Iron Dome” to deflect what he calls lies and false accusations being leveled at Israel.
His own contribution to this effort is a website, thetruthaboutIsrael.org.il. On the site, Ayalon uses videos, social media, and other communications tools to confront and refute attackers, while proactively emphasizing Israel’s accomplishments, contributions to science and medicine, and commitment to human rights and democracy. He also serves on the board of governors of Tel Aviv University and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice in Washington, DC.
Phyllis Chancy Solomon, cochair of the JNF-sponsored event, who has heard Ayalon speak at other functions, lauded his ability to “enlighten and educate” his audience.
Princeton-based psychiatrist and corporate consultant Naomi Vilko, also a cochair, said, “Danny Ayalon has been a leader in hasbara for many years. His short videos, ‘The Truth about Israel,’ have been seen by millions in many different languages.”
“The ambassador, for all of his worldly experience, is warm and friendly, down-to-earth, incredibly knowledgeable, and a gifted communicator,” said Allison Nagelberg, yet another cochair, and also copresident of B’nai Tikvah.
The Garden State Breakfast will also include a concurrent Teen Breakfast & Program to be headlined by Mordechai Cohen, head of school at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel. His topic will be “From Babylon to New Jersey: The Jewish Time Machine.”
The Muss high school offers foreign students, mainly from the United States, an “immersive experience” during a semester abroad in Israel.