Sunday, April 25, 2010

Advocacy, Citizen Ambassadors & Public Diplomacy

I am a part of the Israel Diplomatic Fellowship program sponsored by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taglit-Birthright Next program. The Fellowship allowed me to go to Israel for pennies over the summer and experience from an "insiders" perspective a government sponsored PD initiative. It was eye opening to say the least.

I just returned from a meeting or reunion of sorts from this program whose mission is to make us "Ambassadors for Israel" to our respective communities. With this concept in mind, I'd like to share a quote that made me think about Daryl Copeland's concept of Guerrilla Diplomacy.

We want you to be "agents on the ground who know the environment" and are able to talk and connect with people in a way that government officials cannot. This program is a PD initiative to get U.S. citizens to become advocates/agents/ambassadors for Israel. The terminology "agents" reminds me of the talk Copeland gave at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy in the Fall 2009. He called for "Guerrilla diplomats" to seep into their environments and learn their surroundings and interact with the public in order to better assess the ability for the home government to conduct public diplomacy. His terminology as well as the quote above makes me wonder where the line is between public diplomats who know their audience and the world of special intelligence and Psy-Ops.

As public diplomats I think it is essential to know your audience and understand the public you are trying to reach, but I hesitate to use terminology that makes me think of the Mossad, CIA and James Bond. Where do countries draw the line between pushing their citizens to be public/citizen diplomats and pushing another country's citizens to be public diplomats?

*Originally posted on February 16, 2010 on

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