U of Haifa offers course on anti-BDS techniques

 

Eli Avraham

Eli Avraham

HAIFA, Israel (Press Release)–For the first time in academia, the University of Haifa has launched an academic course to combat the delegitimization of Israel on the Internet. The ‘Ambassadors Online’ Program, offered by the University’s Department of Multi-Disciplinary Studies as a four credit course, prepares students to be unofficial “ambassadors” for Israel on the Internet.

“This program aims at training students, who are interested in investigating, studying and asking what it is that motivates the new anti-Semitism and de-legitimization of Israel, as can be seen among other things in the Apartheid Week, which is an expression of pure anti-Semitism. The ambassadors who will study in the program will fight this phenomenon and learn how to investigate it,”  said Prof. Eli Avraham, the program’s academic instructor and the head of The Comper Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Racism.

The ‘Ambassadors Online’ Program was launched two and a half years ago, as a diploma program offered by the Extension Studies Division, and focused on confronting the delegitimization of Israel through the use of the World Wide Web in and through social networks in particular. Now that the program has been upgraded, the students will be required not only to confront the phenomenon, but to analyze and investigate it by researching old and new anti-Semitism, propaganda strategies, branding and other topics.  During its two and a half years of activity the program’s students reached many achievements: they established an operation room that propagated the reality in Israel during the military operation Pillar of Defense; initiated propaganda delegations abroad; created quite a few viral memes, some of which you may have seen supporting Scarlett Johansson’s decision‏ to advertise Sodastream; hosted journalists and bloggers from all over the world.

In light of these achievements, the program was praised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the coordinator of the program, Maureen Hayo-Hemo, even represented the program at the Knesset.

All these and more have made the program most attractive, so much so that almost a hundred students, part of whom were from other universities in Israel, and some who were not even students, applied. After careful review of the candidates’ qualifications a group of 35 students from all backgrounds, disciplines, degrees and religions were accepted. “This year we will focus on analyzing the meta-strategy of Israeli diplomacy in the web, and on branding Israel in the new media”, said Hayo-Hemo.

“Stereotypes of Jews have not changed very much among some Europeans, as can easily be seen in the way people boycott, or call to boycott Israel for all sorts of reasons. I am sure the students will receive academic and practical tools to cope with these prejudice”, summarized Prof. Avraham.

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