One of CIJA’s foundational evidence-based principles, Shared Values, is a strategy that has been adopted by the pro-Israel community globally, including the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Global Coalition for Israel, and the Israeli PMO’s Hasbara Unit. It is an approach to advocacy premised on the view that, to make our case successfully, we must demonstrate why our cause matters to our target audience rather than attempt to convince our audience why it matters to us. Rooted in extensive public opinion research and experiential confirmation, this approach requires a fundamental understanding of those who comprise our target audience, their level of knowledge, and their underlying worldview and values.
In a column in The Times of Israel, CIJA CEO Shimon Fogel explained how the Shared Values approach has enabled Canadians to appreciate the challenges facing Israelis:
“This approach is grounded in the basic premise that most people know very little about Israel and Israelis, and therefore care little about the difficult challenges that Israel faces in the turbulent Middle East.
“Since 2003, Israel’s supporters in Canada have worked to show Israel and Israelis as fundamentally like Canadians – caring about health care, education, services to the elderly, the arts, and infrastructure – and only reluctantly spending money on defensive strategies like the security barrier out of an urgent need to protect their families from violence.
“In this framework, we do not simply fight boycotts where they appear, but rather work to strengthen and expand practical bilateral ties across government, business, and civil society. Organizations and individuals who aren’t interested in the conflict are very much interested in Israel’s contributions to the world. If we increase these ties and demonstrate their benefits to all, efforts to isolate Israel through boycott remain symbolic and ineffectual.
“In this framework, support for Israel and her long search for peace can also mean supporting the Palestinians’ national aspirations, as long as those aspirations are not expressed as a zero sum game premised on Israel’s policies or even existence as being the primary obstacle to peace.
“Thanks in part to this approach, all Canadian political parties today express solid support for the core premise that Israel, like all other countries, has the right to exist in safety and security within internationally recognized and defensible boundaries. There is a national consensus in Canada that like all other peoples, the Jewish people has a right to a national homeland.”