An Israeli university has hosted a hasbara hackathon, which saw students gather to create ways to improve Israel’s image and undermine the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The ‘iHack’ event, held at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is the latest example of Israeli students and institutions of higher education enlisting themselves in Israel’s global PR offensive.
According to organisers, the event sought to “bring together a community of creative, technical and passionate individuals to work together in teams to create media, content, campaigns, and apps for Israel advocacy.”
The goal was “developing products to promote” three objectives: “making Israel advocacy more accessible to the public”; “countering the BDS movement”; and “positively branding Israel.”
The Technion students behind the project are all part of the ‘Israel Fellowship’ scheme run by Israel advocacy organisation StandWithUs.
The hackathon was run with the help of think-tank the Reut Institute. According to Reut, “the aim is to enhance and develop tools which can be used by activists and organizations fighting against the BDS Campaign and Israel’s delegitimization across the world.”
According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, the Technion-hosted event was also held in collaboration with arms company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, as well as “the Student Union and the Entrepreneurship Centre of the Technion.”
The director of public diplomacy at Israel’s Strategic Affairs and Public Diplomacy Ministry was also in attendance.
Rafael provided 20 employees as “mentors”, along with “other experts in the fields of software and engineering, political science, marketing and graphic design.”
Under the direction of Rafael employee ‘Ezra’ (“whose last name was withheld”), one group created a “diplomatic Iron Dome.” According to the paper, “the team envisioned anti-Israel expression as the missile, and their app as the Iron Dome that must intercept it.”