Dr. Tal Azran, head of the International Communication Program at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, gave his master’s degree class on “State Branding” a patriotic assignment: Find some way to give Israel a good name around the world.
Most students in the class came up with what one described as “the usual stuff hasbara (positive image-building) officials do in Israel: videos that show how beautiful the country is or how beautiful the girls are. ‘Start-Up Nation’ stuff.”
But one pod of four students decided to take things in a different direction.
Aviv Sarel, 31, herself a beautiful Israeli from Tel Aviv who is getting a degree in communications and new media, and three partners, one of whom is Sharon Hess, a Canadian in her 60s who immigrated to Israel more than 40 years ago and recently decided to go back to school, thought, “People aren’t really looking for ‘Beautiful Israel’ when they’re doing an online search.”
Speaking with The Media Line, she said, “We found out that there about 160,000 Google searches for the term ‘BDS’ [Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions] and about 8,500 more for the term ‘boycott Israel.’ It’s a crazy amount of searches. Yet, when you type in ‘BDS’ there is zero pro-Israeli or even knowledgeable presence.”