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Israel recruits gay community in PR campaign against Iran
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent
Israel is stepping up its public relations effort to discredit Iran within the international community, and part of its new campaign focuses on Tehran's abuse of human rights and sponsorship of terrorism.
"We have to lay the foundation in the world, and particularly in Europe, in order to be able to take harsher steps against Iran, especially in the economic sector," said one senior political source in Jerusalem.
The new campaign, to be overseen by the Foreign Ministry, aims to appeal to people who are less concerned with Iran's nuclear aspirations and more fearful of its human rights abuses and mistreatment of minorities, including the gay and lesbian community.
The campaign plans to recruit the international gay community, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed in 2007 when he said there were no homosexuals living in his country.
The campaign will also reach out to Jewish groups who want to bring more attention to Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial and some members of the Iranian regime's anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist views.
About NIS 8 million have already been budgeted for the new campaign, which also includes increased briefings for foreign journalists on the Iranian nuclear program and greater use of the Internet and sites such as YouTube.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman want to broaden the PR campaign on the subject of Iran in the wake of increasing international willingness to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear program. One political source said there appear to be greater expectations in the U.S. and in Europe that diplomacy will solve the nuclear dispute.
However, the assumption in Israel is that dialogue will not lead to fundamental change in Tehran's stance and that the regime will not relinquish its nuclear aspirations, even in exchange for an incentives package from the international community.
The senior political source in Jerusalem said it is necessary to lay the groundwork now for the possible diplomatic failure. Despite talk of a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, the current campaign focuses more on harsh economic sanctions against Tehran.