Foreign Minister Yair Lapid says in a briefing at the Foreign Ministry that Israel’s neglect of public advocacy and diplomacy led to a rise in antisemitism and support in the West for terrorist organizations.
“They are doing this because no one explains to them what is really happening here. They are doing this because Israel’s enemies invested money, time, and effort, and here they throttled the Foreign Ministry and the hasbara array for political reasons,” he says, using the Hebrew term for public diplomacy.
He also says that Israel has many more friends than it may seem, and that it is possible to improve the situation even further.
Lapid points to his meetings in the EU earlier this month, the opening of diplomatic missions in the UAE and Morocco, and the improvement in relations with Jordan.
Lapid acknowledges that “there are people that don’t love us” in the press, in the Democratic Party and among the American Jewish community, but that there are always people who would like to support Israel in the same places. “But no one spoke with them. Instead, we insulted them and made speeches against them,” he says.
He adds: “We will work with them in a different fashion. We will conduct a dialogue, argue when we must. We will not immediately declare that everyone who doesn’t agree with us is an antisemite and Israel hater. This is not how you handle a country’s foreign relations.”
Lapid promises a raft of reforms, some of which have already been implemented, including absorbing the Strategic Affairs Ministry within the Foreign Ministry, increasing the ministry budget and staff size, and ensuring that the Foreign Ministry is at the center of Israel’s decision-making.
“Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and I are totally in sync on this,” he emphasizes.