Ben-Gurion University students. They, too, may be covert social media ‘diplomats’ (Photo: Eliyahu Hershkovitz)
Israel’s Public Diplomacy Ministry is closing. Instead, staff at the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) will be directing covert “diplomacy units” from Israel’s top universities to counter the growing threat of isolation, the effects of the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). A recent article in Haaretz explained the recruitment was “to combat the boycott of Israel” on the social networks. The “public face” of these units is intended to be “one of an independent student entity.”
Reportedly, investment in the recruitment, training and funding of these covert student units, structured in a “semi-military fashion”, is NIS 3 million.
The Prime Minister’s Office is planning to form, in collaboration with the National Union of Israeli Students, “covert units” within Israel’s seven universities that will engage in online public diplomacy (hasbara).
………..Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said the main subjects that the campus-based units will deal with are diplomatic- and security-related issues, efforts to combat the boycott of Israel and anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel………
Seaman informed the public tender committee that the Prime Minister’s Office was interested in having the student union recruit up to 550 students with knowledge of foreign languages from Israel’s seven universities. The student union is to publicize the project among tens of thousands of students and be responsible for the screening process, which will include submission of resumes, submitting answers to questionnaires, providing translation samples and participating in individual interviews. It is also the student union that is to provide computers and work space for a project headquarters on each campus…….. “The idea requires that the state’s role not be highlighted…….”
It is apparent from Seaman’s document that a diplomacy group will be set up at each university and structured in a semi-military fashion. The head of the unit will be a student “senior coordinator,” who will receive a full scholarship from the Prime Minister’s Office. Working under the senior coordinator will be three other student coordinators, each of whom will head one of three desks, responsible for languages, graphics and research. These coordinators will get smaller scholarships. A group of student activists, who will receive nominal student stipends, will work under each coordinator. The Prime Minister’s Office will fund a total of NIS 2.78 million in scholarships for the program in the upcoming academic year.
As an aside, last year staff at Mondoweiss became informed/aware one of the posters participating on our forums at that time was using an ip address out of the Israeli PM’s office. One wonders what prompted the open announcement of these “covert” units at this time.