Dart, Jon. “‘Brand Israel’: Hasbara and Israeli Sport.” Sport in Society (early view; online first).
Until relatively recently, the state of Israel was preoccupied with its military security and paid little attention to cultural politics. However, the emergence of other ‘battlegrounds’ has seen a shift to ‘soft power’ in an attempt to generate a more benevolent global image. This paper spotlights an international sporting event which ordinarily attracts very limited interest from the mainstream media. However, when held in Israel, it created much greater interest. The paper identifies the UEFA’s Men’s U-21 tournament, held in Israel in 2013, to assess how different groups responded to the event: celebratory by the host nation and its supporters, the Israeli Football Association and UEFA; critical amongst Palestinians and their supporters in the international community. The paper identifies how the Israeli state is using ‘hasbara’ in an attempt to arrest its deteriorating international image and shows how the concept is empirically operationalized (‘hasbara in action’).