Knesset Member Dov Lipman.

As far as Knesset members go, Dov Lipman is quite unique. Firstly, he is an American, he also didn’t serve in Israel’s military, and, while an Orthodox rabbi, he serves in a largely secular party.

At age 42, Lipman is also new to politics, and in a recent interview with The Algemeiner perhaps revealed more than a career politician would have. Fresh, energetic and sincere, his pet project is public diplomacy, known in Hebrew as hasbara.

He is by no means the first to call out his country for what many say is among its greatest failings to date: Its inability to effectively organize, and orchestrate a broad and comprehensive strategic communications strategy that can effectively combat the headline grabbing narratives of its enemies.

Perhaps Lipman’s roots in the United States and accent-less English make him as strong a contender as any to tackle the challenge. But it is his membership in the tied largest political party in Israel’s Knesset, Yesh Atid, and his closeness to its leader, Israel’s finance minister, that may just give him the edge.

“All of a sudden Yesh Atid, we’re 19 and (the ruling party) Likud is 19,” he told The Algemeiner, referring to his party’s seats in Israel’s parliament. “It’s symbolic in a certain way, and if we really want to get something done we believe we can get it done.”

Israel’s current Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, aimed at stemming rocket fire from the coastal enclave may also propel the issue forward, as the Jewish state has faced a torrent of criticism, partly, many believe, due to less than desirable public diplomacy efforts.

“I think that the war itself will be the catalyst for that to happen, because I think people realize how critical it is that this just be organized,” Lipman affirmed.

His objection to what exists currently in hasbara programs is mainly the lack of co-ordination.

“You have all these different groups but it’s not coordinated in any kind of way with strong messaging going from one to the other,” he said.

Lipman’s idea of an effective effort is extensive and has largely been constructed by his colleague at Yesh Atid, Ronen Hoffman, who has spend over a year preparing legislation that would see the formation of a new agency directed by Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

Among the resources that could be directed towards gathering information for the effort are Israel’s famed intelligence agencies and the Israel Defense Forces, according to Lipman.

“We feel that this is a huge part of Israel’s battle today. The whole strategy is to delegitimize Israel, and that battle’s happening, you know, in these mechanisms all around the world, and we have to be able to fight that,” he said.

Another member of his party, Yaakov Peri, a former chief of Israel’s Shin Bet has been involved in the discussions, specifically to advise on how intelligence gathering can aid the would-be agency.

Examples Lipman discussed with The Algemeiner included enhancing Israel’s ability to respond to Palestinian claims of civilian deaths and to combat false, exaggerated or …read more

Source:: The Algemeiner


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