Raising Israel's profile – by design

By Simon Rocker, September 22, 2011
Joanna Landau

Joanna Landau

A British-born social entrepreneur has been in Britain this week raising investment for her initiative to improve Israel's image.

But Joanna Landau does not deal in traditional hasbarah, which has largely focused on explaining the Israeli side of the Middle East conflict.

Her organisation, Kinetis, wants to introduce people to an Israel of entrepreneurial flair and cultural diversity.

Inspired by the "Brand Israel" idea conceived by Israeli diplomats, she explained that most people abroad do not take a political interest in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute.

Nevertheless, they have still tended to view Israel through the unappealing lens of conflict and war. "When you look at America, you think of freedom," she said. "When you think of France, you think of romance. But what do you think of when you think of Israel?

"Innovation is a global buzzword and Israel has a lot of it," explained the 37-year-old mother of three, who comes from a London Zionist family who made aliyah when she was five. Before her army service, she studied in the UK at Carmel College and read law at Cambridge.

Kinetis, which she launched as an independent, non-profit-making organisation two years ago, has a number of programmes under its wing.

Its flagship "Vibe Israel" programme brings opinion-formers to the country - but not in the way traditional advocacy organisations operate. Whereas opinion might have once been largely shaped by politicians and journalists, now, thanks to technological change, people will pick up ideas through blogs and social media, she explained.

Vibe Israel recently ran a tour for five of the leading bloggers on parenting - including three from the UK's Who's the Mummy? blog. The result was around 40 blog posts about Israel from participants and tweets read by thousands of people.

The next specialist tour will be for bloggers on design.

Last updated: 2:50pm, September 22 2011