Talk:Public diplomacy (Israel)/Propaganda Category

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This article is set up with a purpose to mark the inclusion of Hasbara into the Category:Propaganda disputed. It is intended to host the discussions on categorizing Hasbara as propaganda or not doing it. Once a consensus is reached, the present article will safely be deleted. Feedback on the hack is welcome here or at my talk page.

Please discuss whether Hasbara should be included into the Category:Propaganda here and not at Talk:Hasbara. On the other hand, please discuss the wording of Hasbara, including the parts that relate to its definition as propaganda by some, not here, but rather at Talk:Hasbara instead.

BACbKA 20:42, 9 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Category: Propaganda

I am removing the Category:Propaganda link from this NGO article. I see that you have worked on another NGO page, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and yet you have not classifed that as propaganda. Non-governmental organizations are not categorized as propaganda groups. --Viriditas 07:01, 14 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Hasbara is a technique that can be translated variously as "propaganda," "advocacy," "advertising," "interpretation", or "education". You are welcome to add any or all of those categories, as far as I'm concerned. The Al Mezan Center is a Palestinian human rights organization that promotes human and civil rights without regard to politics. You are comparing apples and oranges by comparing the generic technique or process of partisan political promotion with an organization that promotes human rights in a non-partisan manner. It is true that that some organizations carry the name Hasbara and one gives out "Hasbara Fellowships" but this does not make them non-partisan human rights organizations. By its very definition, hasbara is partisan. It seeks to promote one side, one political point of view. If you agree with the Zionist project and its political point of view, hasbara campaigns on behalf of Israel do not appear to be propaganda. They appear to be a series of pleasant truths. If you are neutral about the content, then the process of disseminating information to promote a particular national political agenda falls in the category of propaganda. Al Mezan promotes human rights in a non-partisan way. They do not promote partisan political points of view. Documenting human casualties of the Israeli occupation may have political consequences but the Al Mezan Center also documents abuses by the Palestinian Authority so they are not partisan. Advocating human rights is not partisan and it is not propaganda (unless you are not human, then it may seem to be unfair). Advocating political points of view in support of a political party or nation is partisan and it is propaganda. I hope this helps clear up the issue. Alberuni 00:43, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
You just described the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights as a propganda group. Their mission statement advocates the development of economic, social, and cultural rights - an entirely political process that necessitates a lobbying position. Al Mezan explicitly advocates an anti-Israel political point of view and their own activities page describes Al Mezan as a political lobbying group whose entire purpose is to accuse Israel of human-rights violations and war crimes. It just can't get any more propaganda-oriented than that. Alberuni, can you expect anyone to take you seriously when you claim that Al Mezan does not promote partisan political points of view? Their entire existence is based on the promotion of the partisan, political point of view that Israel is guilty of human-rights violations and war crimes. Meanwhile, not one word or article exists on Al Mezan's allegedly "non-partisan" website detailing the extensive human rights abusives of Palestinians by Palestinians, against other Palestinians, mostly women and children. --Viriditas 12:16, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Alberuni, for your language learning pleasure, here are the real translations to Hebrew of all these terms

English Hebrew Transliteration
Propaganda תעמולה Taamula
Advocacy קידום Kidum*
advertising פרסום Pirsum
interpretation פרשנות Parshanut
education חינוך Hinuh

*Kidum is a pretty sucky translation for advocacy. However, "to advocate" is translated as "לקדם" so the related noun, Kidum, seemed to be the best fit.

In short, if you want to translate Hasbara, it only translates to "explaining". As for your second point, yes, Viriditas was comparing apples and oranges, but this in no way means that one is propaganda and the other is not. As far as NPOV is concerned it is immaterial whether it is an organization or a generic name. Gadykozma 01:01, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I disagree. Al Mezan may call themselves a human rights group, but instead of addressing human rights issues in the Palestinian community Al Mezan chooses to engage in propaganda dissemination on an international basis. Their press releases are nothing but anti-Israel propaganda pieces that are distributed whenever terrorists attack Israel. This is a standard propaganda tactic used to deflect attention away from Palestinian terrorists and onto Israel after Palestinian terrorists target and murder civilians. --Viriditas 11:58, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Thank you Gadykozma for the Hebrew lesson. Of course, I wrote that hasbara can be translated as propaganda - and in fact it has frequently been translated that way. Words often have more than one synonym and translated words can usually be approximated by several synonyms depending on usage. While the word hasbara may mean "to translate," the practice of hasbara is not just translation, it is political advocacy/propaganda. Alberuni 01:32, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Thanks you for the enlightening lesson on the philosophy of translation. Now, all I'm asking for is that you do not use phrases such as "hasbara is translated as propaganda" or "hasbara is a Hebrew word meaning propaganda" which are just plain false, but that you use phrases such as "the term hasbara is often used to relate to actions which might more properly be named propaganda" or some such. This is not an issue of translation but of word usage. When hasbara is used in Hebrew as propaganda, this is also done euphemistically. Translating it as "explaining" or "explanation" would accurately preserve the euphemistic use that existed in the Hebrew origin. Gadykozma 01:40, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

IZAK, please don't add the "in a broader sense" sentence again. To my native speaker eyes, its wrongness is so glaring it just hurts. Hasbara in Hebrew is a plain and simple word. It has no "narrow sense" and "broad sense". It means what it means, which is explaining. When a native speaker sees the word hasbara used to describe Israeli propoganda efforts, he understands that this usage is euphemistic. Please do not try to obfuscate this fact. Gadykozma 13:01, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Hasbara also means interpretation, and the Ben Yehuda dictionary concurs. Parshanut does mean interpretation, but it often has a religious connotation. That said, "explanation" is the simple translation of the word hasbara. Jayjg 14:07, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
What about פרשנות ספורט (parshanut sport), the standard term for sports commentation? Gadykozma 14:21, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Note: "often has a religious connotation". "Often" is not "always", or even "usually". Jayjg 14:38, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I only wanted to say that my personal feeling is that the connection between parshanut and religion is quite weak. The sports cmmentary was just an example. But we are really digressing here. Gadykozma 13:21, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Israeli MFA position

On the Israeli Foreign Ministry site we can find article by ambassador Gideon Meir where he states that there is no exact word in english and "[hasbara] is not mere propaganda", i.e. it is propaganda, but not only propaganda. Quote: First of all, the word “hasbara” itself is a problem. There is no real precise translation of the word in English or in any other language. It is not mere propaganda, nor is it an attempt to merely “explain” Israel’s policies and reality, nor is it just a matter of providing information. In no place in its article (and yes, he writes a great deal about other diplomatic efforts also) did ambassador say that hasbara is NOT propaganda. If Israeli ambassador can take such stand and foreign ministery promotes it then we should see no problem with it. Therefore I see putting this seemingly untranslatable phenomena back to "propaganda" category as justified. As we see in the Category:Propaganda there are many things which do not translate directly as "propaganda", but are rather methods, forms, devices or techiques related to propaganda. --Magabund 11:37, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Category:Propaganda has been deleted without discussion again

I dispute the neutrality of this article until the reason for this constant deletion is justified. Alberuni 15:48, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

The reason has been explained to you a dozen times. You may keep ignoring it as you wish. --Viriditas 11:48, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Viriditas, you are not being very helpful with your last couple of edits. First of all, if the reason has been explained a dozen times, you probably should be giving at least 2-3 references to the corresponding edit histories. The controversial issues in the editing of which you're engaging are being discussed here and in the Talk:Propaganda page, and consensus seems to crystallize out of the discussion. Look also at the link to the propaganda discussion below and contribute there if you want to express a different opinion. Alberuni, probably, should not have used the word "vandalism" in the check-in comment reverting your action, but he has a point. Assuming good faith, I believe that you haven't read the recent 2 days' worth of discussion. Before that, indeed, Alberuni was not cooperative and acting without justification, also using extremely POV formulations without consensus and attacking others. If that was the basis for your actions, I can understand your frustration, but this just proves you should have assumed more good faith and read the recent developments. Since being listed on the RfC, he has definitely been improving his habits. Therefore, I suggest you turn down your swift editing pace and engage more in explanatory discussions. BACbKA 18:33, 16 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Thanks for bringing me back on track to the task at hand. In the next few hours or so I will post a lengthy response in a separate section on this page as well as the Propaganda page. Again, thanks for bringing clarity to this discussion. Please see Hasbara is advocacy not propaganda for some insight on my objection. I believe the correct category is either Activism or Israeli activism. --Viriditas 10:12, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)


Does this article belong in this category? Does it not belong in this category? Please discuss.

Category:Propaganda says:

Propaganda is a specific type of message presentation, aimed at serving an agenda. Even if the message conveys true information, it may be partisan and fail to paint a complete picture. The primary use of the term is in political contexts and generally refers to efforts sponsored by governments. The intent of the category is for government sponsored and items easily classified as propaganda.

Does hasbara fit this definition? Does it not fit this definition? Why or why not? —No-One Jones (m) 15:52, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Anything which educates, promotes or engages in public relations could fit a broad definition of propaganda. That's why propaganda categorizations have been restricted to groups who engage in control and emotional manipulation. Hasbara doesn't do this. Hasbara is about advocacy on behalf of Israel in good faith, unlike propaganda. Hasbara exists to counter anti-Israel propaganda through activism and advocacy. It is not promoting Israel so much as it is explaining and defending it from propaganda, much like a public interest group educates and activates the public while defending issues of interest to their group. --Viriditas 10:59, 17 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Hasbara as it has come to be used to mean pro-Israel political advocacy clearly fits this definition. Hasbara is political advocacy on behalf of Israeli interests. It is partisan and one-sided, not even pretending to present a balanced picture of Israeli politics, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the plight of the Palestinians or the Middle East in general. It is geared entirely to support the interests of the Jewish state by promoting the Israeli perspective and the positive aspects of Israel to the world, specifically to voters and elected officials. Hasbara organizations sponsor multimedia advertising and letter-writing campaigns, visits to Israel by prominent politicians, exchange programs, etc all designed to promote a selective positive view of the Israeli state. You will not likely find an Hasbara organization critical of Israel or Israeli policies. They wouldn't be doing their hasbara job correctly if they detracted from Israel's image. This is not to say that other countries do not engage in propaganda. The US is promoting a new Arabic language TV channel in the Mideast. That's also a propaganda effort insofar as it promotes the political vision dictated by its sponsors. The Palestinian Authority and the Saudi government hire US PR firms to burnish their image. That's also propaganda. It's not unique to Israel. If Wikipedians wish to create articles about other national propaganda efforts that would be great but trying to deny that hasbara is a form of propaganda is an effort at censorship. Alberuni 16:07, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Alberuni, you wrote: Hasbara as it has come to be used to mean pro-Israel political advocacy clearly fits this definition. Since you agree that Hasbara is an advocacy organization, then you will admit it does not belong in the propaganda category. --Viriditas 00:20, 18 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I would assume that you would have no problem with us adding pages about al-jezeera (sp?) (if there are any) as propaganda as well, correct? If so, I have no quarrel with you about the propaganda category.--Josiah 16:40, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Both Saddam Hussein and the U.S. government accused Al Jazeera of propaganda so I have no problem with your adding it to the category. I don't dispute that al-Jazeera has biases, as do most news agencies like FOX, ABC, CBS, Washington Post, Reuters, Maariv, etc., and there will always be some people with the POV that these are sources of propaganda. I think though that the comparison between news agencies and hasbara is false. They are different types of thing. News agencies may engage in propaganda, some of them are established for that specific purpose, but hasbara is not a particular news agency; it is the practice of political advocacy. Therefore, hasbara is more clearly a type of propaganda than a specific news agency which might engage in propaganda. Read the Propaganda page and Category:Propaganda items. Even Voice of America is listed under propaganda because it reflects and promotes U.S. government policies. Al Jazeera is technically independent and does not promote any particular government's POV but if you want to categorize it as propaganda, that's fine by me. Alberuni 17:06, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Alright, then I have no quarrel with you. I carry both an 'both or none' position. If neither page is put in the propaganda category, then i have no problem. If both are, I have no problem, but I do have a problem if only one of them is.--Josiah 23:12, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)
I think it does belong to the Propaganda category. See my comments on Talk:Propaganda#Anti-Israel_propaganda_efforts_are_continuing. BACbKA 19:07, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Consensus favors putting hasbara in category propaganda but User:Jayjg keeps reverting the category addition. --Alberuni 16:08, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

First of all, you keep confusing consensus with a vote. Second, at least two editors here do not feel the category is appropriate, a third one has given at best conditional support, and a fourth has given no opinion. Only you seem to support it; hardly "consensus" in my view. Jayjg 18:24, 10 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Why pro-Israeli propagandists can't stand for category propaganda

They think their propaganda is the truth. --Alberuni 18:46, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Most people do think their own propaganda is the truth. That's why the whole category is a pretty bad idea. - Mustafaa 19:29, 15 Nov 2004 (UTC)

It is not hard to understand how "Hasbara"(advocatory 'explaining' as is done by most Hasbara organizations especially on college campi) can be argued not to be a propaganda effort for the present (1947-2005) policies of israel. The pro-israeli editors accepted on this site have proven themselves to be "Hasbara" agents through their undocumented claims that "Hasbara" as practiced from the start of the State of Israel in 1947 to the present date is not partisan public relations advocacy.