Lord Sacks: Support Israel with ideas not PR

By Jennifer Lipman, July 8, 2011
Lord Sacks

Lord Sacks

The Chief Rabbi has called for the creation of a new think tank with a dream team of intellectuals including writers Amos Oz and David Grossman to develop an Israel advocacy, based on thought, not just public relations.

Lord Sacks told Ha'aretz newspaper that Israel and the Jewish community put too much focus on hasbara, or Israel advocacy, which he described as "haphazard acts of public diplomacy".

He said rather that hasbara was too much like marketing and completely missed the point. "You have to understand what the world is, not what our message. The right approach to fight Israel's detractors is to understand the enemy and to find out the truth for oneself before trying to influence others."

The Chief Rabbi, who is to step down in 2013, said such public relations campaigns were misguided, because Israel's supporters should stop thinking of "right now" and concentrate on longer-term analysis.

He said: "Sometimes the philosophy is more important than the action. We are a nation of intellectuals but for some reason we forget that when we are living as Jews."

He also urged Israelis to work out "the point of view of the people [they were] opposed to".

"First seek to understand and only then seek to be understood," he said.

Lord Sacks said the ideal think tank would include philosophers such as Moshe Halbertal. "We have the world's greatest minds in this field, but we are very slow in enlisting them," he said.

Last updated: 10:06am, July 8 2011