Friday, June 4, 2010

YOU BECOME WHAT YOU HATE!

The behavioral similarities between Israel under the Likudniks and Malaysia under the Umnoputras are more than startling. In both cases, the problem seems to lie with an entrenched attitude of arrogance, conceit and compulsive denial concealing a pathological insecurity and deeply ingrained sense of victimhood. Here's what Swiss-born psychologist and philosopher Carlo Strenger has to say about the current Israeli government...

"Israel will have to decide: it cannot rebrand itself as a liberal, creative and progressive country without being one. Our business sector, our artists and academics are mostly progressive, liberal and creative. But their impact on how Israel is perceived will remain negligible as long as Israel’s politicians and emissaries keep harping on victimhood and survival and as long as its policies are repressive." ~ Carlo Strenger (Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University)

The most important positive result of the ‘Branding Israel’ project has been that during the last decades, a powerful new sub-brand of Israel has evolved: it is called Tel Aviv, it is associated with Israel’s culture, technology and joie de vivre: it is perceived as liberal in outlook, full of vitality, creativity and oriented toward the future. Hence, the study concludes, Israel must rebrand itself as creative, vital and progressive; an image that has positive resonance with the young global elites.

However, there is one major obstacle in the path to rebranding Israel. Our politicians don't seem to understand how the mechanism of rebranding works. They confuse the old concept of ‘hasbara’, which literally means ‘explanation’ with branding. Explaining and arguing has no impact whatsoever on how people experience a person or a brand. Our relationship to brands is like our relationship to human beings: it is primarily emotional.

If somebody explains to you that she is a nice person, but does so sternly and harshly, it is the tone of voice rather than the content of the message that determines the listener's emotional reaction. Moreover: if you explain that you are nice, and are then seen behaving violently, it is the behavior rather than the words that will determine the emotional reaction. We all know this: if an airline explains to you that it is friendly, but you are treated dismally by its employees, you will tell your friends that the airline is horrible, not that it is friendly. Ultimately perception of a brand hinges on actual behavior and organizational culture, not propaganda.

[Source: Haaretz.com; kindly brought to my notice by Walter Smith]

Ehud Barak's "OneIsrael" is undoubtedly the big brother of Najib Razak's "1Malaysia"!

Also worth reading: Activists on the Ship 'Rachel Corrie' Challenge Israel's Unjust Gaza Blockade and Zionist Myths by Ira Chernus
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