An Agent of Zionist Propaganda, the JNF 1924-1947
Yoram Bar-Gal, 1999
A description of the book:
This book deals with the study of the case of the Propaganda Department of the Jewish National Fund in Israel during the years 1924-1947. It treats the intersection between propaganda and the education of children and youth through the development of mass media work practices – an encounter which took place on the background of the need of the organization (the JNF) to achieve political goals over a long period of time.
The JNF (sometimes referred to as the KKL – Keren Kayemet Le Yisrael – the Hebrew transliteration) is the executive body established by the Zionist movement in 1902 to buy land in Palestine for the Jewish people. Very quickly, however, it became an international organization and, even, before World War I had branches in many countries throughout the world. One of the tasks of these branches was to mediate between the central office in Jerusalem and the millions of Jews who donated money to buy land. The organization , which is still active throughout the Jewish world, concerned itself with "the marketing of ideology": the dissemination of symbols, knowledge and ideas to the masses of the Jewish people, and converted them into money and real estate property in the Land of Israel – Eretz Yisrael.
While the history of Zionism will remember the JNF as an organization which purchased land for the settlement of Jews in Eretz Yisrael, in the memories of much of World Jewry the organization is linked with the memories of their childhood and the forming of their identities. This memory was, in fact, fashioned by the Propaganda Department of the JNF which worked through the mass communications media in the Jewish world and made its presence massively felt in the Jewish education networks in many countries. Up until today there has been virtually no research carried out on these aspects of Zionist propaganda which helped fashion the collective memory and left its mark upon Jewish culture in Israel and the Jewish Diaspora.
The documents of the period under study allow us to study the institutional motive of the JNF which propelled it towards the intensive activity whose results were felt by every child who received a Zionist education. The JNF devoted considerable resources to this activity and one can assume that the motives were connected to areas of politics and internal-Zionistic struggles for power. The study identifies a small group of people, from the areas of both propaganda and education, who saw Eretz Yisrael as the "product" they had to market to various sections of population within the Jewish World, using the conventional methods of persuasion for those days.
The use of the term "propaganda", which will constantly appear in this book, has been an emotionally loaded concept since the Second World War. The term "propaganda" is, actually, one of the expressions of the art of "persuasion": that is an organizational or institutional effort to persuade others to believe (or not to believe) in "certain truths" or to carry out (or avoid carrying out) certain activities. There are those who define propaganda as "a form of communication which attempts to change the attitudes and beliefs of others"