Israel has announced it is dispatching senior government ministers and a former diplomat on a public relations (PR) exercise to the United States. From time to time Israel launches media blitzes, but ask any pro-Israel activists overseas and they will tell you they are in no way impressed by the country's PR machine.
The announcement was made Sunday by the colorful and controversial Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Four government ministers, along with Israel's deputy foreign minister and a former consul-general to New York have been charged with spending time in the U.S. explaining Israel's diplomatic policies. On the completion of their work at the end of October more officials will be sent on the same mission.
Israel has identified 15 American cities where it believes it can influence public opinion. The representatives will meet key officials, make media appearances, speak in closed-door sessions with news editors and opinion writers, address university audiences among many other activities.
Israel already enjoys high approval rating in the U.S. and sees Washington as its key ally overseas. Public opinion in Latin America, Europe and elsewhere is far less sympathetic towards the Israeli narrative, yet Lieberman has decided to specifically target the United States.
The move comes after weeks of bad press for Israel following its very public row with Washington over its settlement-building policy in the West Bank. The Obama administration is demanding a freeze on all construction work. While agreement is reported to be close, there has been increased criticism of Israel in the U.S. and the normally united pro-Israel lobby has shown divisions in recent months over the settlements issue.