The BBC and a Japanese newspaper recently conducted a joint opinion poll to establish which countries are considered to be a positive influence in the world. 30,000 respondents in 33 countries were polled.
Germany, Japan, the European Union got the top marks.
The country that was most negatively viewed was Iran at 56 percent, followed by Pakistan at 51 percent and Israel at 50 percent.
“Israel, Not What the World Thinks” is the motto of a Hebrew pamphlet that I was handed as I was leaving Tel Aviv airport several weeks ago. Israel’s Ministry of Propaganda is eager to change the general perception of the country. To this end, Israelis are instructed to “first listen, then talk” and to “keep eye contact - your counterparts will notice that you are attentive to them.” Not only humour which "always helps” but photos and maps and personal stories to illustrate one’s case should also be used.
Having mastered these techniques, we are given the ammunition: A list of key moments in Israel's history. Israel - as seen by this government pamphlet - is a cocktail of wars mixed with winning the Eurovision Song Contest and occasional Nobel prizes. These are topped up by the information that “Windows XP”, the Disk-on-Key as well as Cherry tomatoes were invented in Israel.
Can illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories be made good by Israeli professors winning Nobel prizes?
Will people change their minds about Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab territories occupied in 1967 because Dana International won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1998 or because an Arab Israeli, Rana Raslan, was made Miss Israel in 1999?
Printing pamphlets is easy.