Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hasbara Beth and Ira Style

From Wikipedia: Hasbara, Hasbara (Hebrew: הסברה‎, also spelt Hasbarah) is a Hebrew noun that literally means "explanation". [1][2] The term has been used by the State of Israel and by independent groups to describe their efforts to explain Israeli government policies, and to promote Israel to the world at large.

In other words, Hasbara, is the local spin. There are many who feel that Israel is terrible at Hasbara. Our own Elisheva, Sarah's daughter, currently serving in the IDF in 'Doveyr Tzahal' (Spokesperson's Dept), feels that the army works hard to help journalists understand what's going on but could do better at certain times yet with security concerns being what they are it's often an unwinnable game.

We've realized over the last year and a half of living here that we have our own Hasbara methodology which perhaps if employed more would make for a happier world. We get a phone call or email from a friend, close or long lost. 'We're coming into town' they tell us. We respond with happiness and pleasure - sometimes tinged with exhaustion as certain times of the year are marked by continuous guests (holidays, Xmas/New Years, summertime). 'Want to go out to eat?' they often ask. 'Sure' we respond, 'but maybe you want to come over and have dinner by us...' 'Really?' they say, 'Ok, how about Shabbat?' And we host - dinner on a weeknight means soup and stir-fry or something not to fancy (ask Rena S, we've fed her nicely - then again, she shleps from Costco for us and deserves dessert and a good bottle of wine as well), or evening coffee and cake and we try not to yawn too much (we're not vacationing and wake up for Akiva's bus is 6:15 every day Sun-Fri). Shabbat really is best as even if we're tired on Friday night, we're happy, relaxed and glad to sit and hang out. And if we can get you to come to shul, even better and we'll always shlep the visitor to Shira Hadasha for their lengthy but spirited davening. We make it up to you with a good scotch and a good meal. Shabbat day means shul, lunch and even a game of grab scrabble or if Alan shows up, some bridge. Sometimes we can play during the week too - trips to Tel Aviv to shop are always fun, as well as the shuk in Jerusalem for our favorite coffee and 'croissanterie' and the occasional hike in the countryside if a day can be found. All in good fun and all to show you how we like to enjoy ourselves here.

We're happy to talk politics if you'd like, answer questions about our life here and generally field inquiries about whatever as best as possible. We ask that you not grill Natan too much about the army which he hates talking about but will try to be pleasant if he can.

Then, there's The Honey. Our Tel Aviv partner, Hadass Tesher, said in a conference call the other day that The Honey is her form of Hasbara and I thought, 'what a brilliant statement.' Indeed, people have said to me that what they like about The Honey is that it is completely non-political, although we do list occasional community happenings that may not be liked by all, our emphasis is on living a good life here, enjoying all that Israel has to offer, from the North to the South, from the mix of cultures and the mash of people from all over the world who arrive here to live and work here. If we could only sell our particular brand of Hasbara to the Ministry of Tourism or some big company that would like to sponsor us. ..we're working on it.

But the upshot is that if you come and visit us, like the 35 or so before you - no, make that 45 as we hosted a party of 10 this past Shabbat, we'll make you coffee, serve you cake and if you play your cards right, Shabbat dinner and a tiyul (trip out and about) could happen as well. We want to see you here in Israel, and want to show you our house, introduce you to some of our new friends, let Akiva get excited that you came on a plane to visit him - in short, give you a bit of a taste of how the locals (I guess that's what we are) live.

Give us a call. We're waiting to hear from you.

1 comment:

Ira Skop said...

I just want to clarify with respect to the 35/45 guests. I am counting any individual or family unit we know who arrives in Israel, makes contact with us, and whom we see either at our home (usually) or go out with. THAT number is 35 (if we counted each person in each family it would be more like 75). Last weekend's guests count only as 1. Those 35 visitor-units actually comprise 45 visits (so 10 instances of repeat visits). The frequentest fliers are Rena S, Sara P, and (tall) cousin Paul. 18 of the 35 (about half) are from Kane St. Synagogue.