Dr. Boaz Mourad, Brand Israel Group

Israel's Standing in the US and Future Israeli-American Relations 


The Brand Israel Group is comprised of groups that look at the perception of Israel among Americans. Our goal is to develop an overriding grand strategy for Israel, and to thus strengthen Americans' relationship with Israel. All activities are done on a volunteer basis. 

Branding a nation is about a global view of all the different touch-points people have with a brand, and we look at a nation as brand. Branding is about identifying a long-term vision of what that nation is about and making a connection with it. It will serve as an insulation in times of crisis. 

BIG recently conducted a study, which had three goals: 

1)       Understanding Americans' image of Israel 

2)       Identifying barriers that prevent a better perception of Israel 

3)       Determining what can be done to improve Israel's image in America. 

The approach of the study was unique. The subjects were selected from the mainstream population and engaged in a two-hour discussion. For the first hour and a half, the participants were unaware that the topic of the study was Israel; during that time, many countries were discussed. 

The exercise was projective: participants were divided into groups, in which they were asked to imagine a street with houses, each of which represented a different country. In each group, the participants were prompted to describe three houses, and the house representing Israel was always one of them. This following clip was recorded in such groups, in which the houses representing Italy and Israel were compared. 

The perception of Israel among these participants is one of a militaristic, male-dominated, alien country—a place where the people "are not people like me," where the atmosphere is harsher than in America and the people more extreme than Americans. 

As part of the study, participants were also given twenty magazines and asked to choose pictures they thought reflected Israel; invariably, the pictures embodied themes of conflict, religion, and a sense of loneliness. 

The participants were then asked explicitly what they thought about Israel 

Clearly, the participants cannot envision even the most basic aspects of what life in Israel is like. Israelis feel they are similar to Americans in many aspects of their lifestyle—and they are right about this.  But these Israelis believe that Americans know this—but that is not true. Instead, Israel's image is defined by two key concepts: conflict and religion. The perception lacks any human element. 

For this reason, in the study we asked about the food and the beaches in Israel. We tried to show that there is a social life and a day-to-day lifestyle that is not unlike those of Americans. Our goal was to soften Israel's extreme image. 

Our future projects will involve testing strategic opinions such as those of American youth, Jews, and ideological elites, in our continuous effort to define the image that will bring the greatest receptiveness to Israel. 


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