Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search

The Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy (Template:Lang-he, HaMisrad LeNos'im Astrategi'im) was an Israeli government ministry responsible for leading the campaign against the BDS movement.[1] The ministry was closed down in 2021 by the 36th government and merged into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[2]


Under Gildad Erdan's leadership, the Ministry attempted to keep its activities secret. Erdan and Vaknin-Gil even tried, unsuccessfully, to exempt the Ministry from the Israeli Freedom of Information Law.Template:Sfn In 2016, Vaknin-Gil refused to divulge details of the Ministry's activities to a committee of Israeli parliamentarians. "A lot of what we do is under the radar," she told them.Template:Sfn However, the Ministry came under a new leadership in 2018; Orit Farkash-Hacohen became the new Strategic Affairs Minister and Ronen Manelis his director general. They announced that they intended to increase the Ministry's transparency which allowed previously secret documents to be published.[3]

The Ministry believes that state propaganda is less effective in persuading the public than institutions and individuals perceived as acting independently. The Ministry has therefore created a "network" of domestic and international organizations to advance the state's "message."Template:Sfn

Purchasing favorable news coverage

In January 2020, the Israeli investigative magazine The Seventh Eye reported that the Ministry was buying space in mainstream Israeli newspapers to promote its campaign against the BDS movement.Template:Sfn

The campaign began in summer 2017 with a budget of ILS 7 million campaign to influence media outlets such as Yedioth Ahronoth, The Jerusalem Post, and the Keshet Media Group. The Ministry paid NIS 120,000 to place articles in The Jerusalem Post and NIS 70,000 to "sponsor" a conference hosted by the newspaper. In exchange for the sponsorship, the Ministry received a 30-minute-panel at the conference which included a screening of a film produced by the Ministry about BDS and anti-Semitism. Prior to the conference, The Jerusalem Post published several articles and op-eds about supposed "links between BDS and anti-Semitism."Template:Sfn

Karin Peretz of the Ministry's "public arena" arm told the Seventh Eye that the payment included "sponsored content" but a spokesperson for the Ministry later stated that Peretz was mistaken and that the payment did not include a series of articles. The Jerusalem Post denied that the articles had been paid for.Template:Sfn

In October 2020, The Seventh Eye reported that the Ministry in 2019 had paid The Jerusalem Post NIS 120,000 to publish a special supplement titled Unmasking BDS.[4] The Ministry's own officials were interviewed in the supplement as well as Republican Senator Ted Cruz.Template:Sfn


The Ministry supports and funds Act.IL, a grassroots mobilization app that directs its users to serve Israel online.Template:Sfn For example, by commenting on and sharing pro-Israel material on social media and to flag, report, and respond to criticism of Israel.Template:Sfn

Closure of bank accounts

In 2019, the Ministry announced that a financial campaign had resulted in the shutdown of 30 financial accounts belonging to BDS-promoting non-governmental organizations (NGOs); 20 in Europe and 10 in the U.S.[5] Among them, accounts belonging to the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network,Template:Sfn the Palestinian BDS National Committee, and Al-Haq.Template:Sfn The accounts were shut down through a combination of efforts by the Ministry, Shurat HaDin, and the International Legal Forum.[6]

Coordination with NGOs

The Ministry cooperates and coordinates with several Israeli and international pro-Israel non-governmental organizations. Among them, Shurat HaDin,Template:Sfn the International Legal Forum,Template:Sfn the Foundation for Defense of Democracies,Template:Sfn and the Israel on Campus Coalition.[7] The Ministry has given $445,000 to the American think tank Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy,Template:Sfn and $40,000 to the American anti-Muslim hate group Proclaiming Justice to the Nations.Template:Sfn

In 2017, the Ministry announced the formation of an anti-BDS legal network. As part of this network, the Ministry-funded NGO the International Legal Forum, would distribute grants of NIS 600,000 to professionals and organizations engaged in the legal fight against BDS.[8]Template:Sfn

In 2020, the Ministry announced a "financial aid program" to the "pro-Israel network" to counteract the funding crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.Template:Sfn

A diplomatic cable first reported about in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in 2017 caused controversy as it indicated that the Ministry had attempted to "operate" British Jewish organizations. The Israeli Foreign Ministry which, had sent the cable to the Strategic Affairs Ministry, cautioned it not to do so. "The strategic affairs ministry must understand that ‘operating’ organisations directly from Jerusalem by email and telephone isn't good for their health," it warned.[9]


Critics allege that the Ministry is leading a campaign of online trolling, legal harassment and intelligence gathering against BDS activists worldwide.[10] According to Rebecca Vilkomerson, former executive director of the Jewish Voice for Peace, the Ministry's attacks on BDS is part of a campaign "to stifle the growing support for Palestinian rights, using dirty tactics including cyberbullying and false legal claims that intimidate and try to silence criticism of Israeli policy".[11]

The Ministry has also been criticized for its cooperation with, and sometimes funding of, American NGOs, which critics believe could violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[12] Ali Abunimah, founder of the pro-Palestinian website The Electronic Intifada, said "if you had on tape a statement of a senior Russian or Iranian or even Canadian official saying that they were running covert operations, to spy on Americans, and using an organization like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as a front…it would be a bombshell."Template:Sfn



# Minister Party Government Term start Term end Notes
1 Avigdor Lieberman Yisrael Beiteinu 31 30 October 2006 18 January 2008
2 Ehud Olmert Kadima 31 18 January 2008 13 April 2008 Serving Prime Minister
3 Moshe Ya'alon Likud 32 31 March 2009 18 March 2013
4 Yuval Steinitz Likud 33 18 March 2013 14 May 2015
5 Ze'ev Elkin Likud 34 14 May 2015 25 May 2015
6 Gilad Erdan Likud 34 25 May 2015 17 May 2020
7 Orit Farkash-Hacohen Blue and White 35 17 May 2020 30 November 2020
8 Michael Biton Blue and White 35 30 November 2020 13 June 2021
9 Yair Lapid Yesh Atid 36 13 June 2021 3 August 2021



  • Ministry of Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Leading BDS Organizations 19 June 2018. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 7 May 2020.

See Also


According to Haaretz: 'even its location is a secret, described only as “greater Tel Aviv.”'[13] According to YNet News: 'At first sight, it looks like a startup company’s office. But it is from this place, on the 29th floor of Ramat Gan’s Champion Tower, that the State of Israel is waging one of its most important and difficult battles: The war on delegitimization and on the boycott movement.'[14]

  • Address:
Champion Tower, 30 Sheshet Hayamim St.Bnei Brak, Israel
Tel: +972 (0)72327-5555,
Fax: +972 (0)72327-5556