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Obama's visit to Israel gets name and logo

February 18, 2013|By Batsheva Sobelman
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shown attending the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, will host visiting President Obama next month.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, shown attending the weekly… (Ronen Zvulun / Getty Images…)

JERUSALEM — The itinerary and agenda for President Obama's trip to Israel next month is still being hammered out by teams on both sides. But the visit already has an official name, and by the end of the week, it will have a logo too.

From hurricanes and wars to Olympic games and royal weddings, media outlets frame major events with catchy titles and logo designs.

Past presidential or dignitary visits to Israel have been named, but mostly by the police, who code-named their operation to secure President George W. Bush's visit "Clear Skies" and Pope Benedict XVI's tour as "White Robe."

In what seems to be a first attempt at official government branding, Israel has named Obama's visit "Unshakable Alliance." Translated compactly from the Hebrew words brit amim, or an alliance of nations, the phrase echoes variations on the theme repeated by U.S. leaders in recent decades, from Obama's "unshakable commitment" to Israel's security to Hillary Rodham Clinton's "unshakable bond" and way back to Dan Quayle's "unshakable alliance."

The English title was chosen with care, local media reported, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was displeased with the English translation for "Operation Pillar of Defense," Israel's military campaign against the Gaza Strip in November, where a biblical reference got lost in translation. 

Israel's branding and marketing efforts also include a logo. The prime minister's office is inviting the public to choose between three designs uploaded to Facebook and vote for their favorite by Tuesday evening. 

This is part of efforts to utilize social media to get the public involved in the visit, according to Yakov Amidror, the head of Israel's National Security Council who is coordinating the visit.

The English-language daily Jerusalem Post poked fun at the subject in a headline that joked "Obama trip to get logo (but no corporate sponsor)."

Alon Liel, a former director of Israel's Foreign Ministry, doesn't recall such official marketing in the past. First, he notes, presidential visits to Israel are rare. "Things have changed considerably since the presidential visit," he said, referring to that of Bush in 2008, "and it is wise that diplomacy move ahead with the times and media."

But Liel sees more to this campaign. The visit, he says, is not going to be easy or simple for the government. 

"Relations between the leaders are very strained because of the ongoing stalemate in the peace process, as well as Netanyahu's support of Romney, but Israel is branding this a wonderful, positive bilateral show," the former diplomat said. 

The government is trying to celebrate Israel being one of the "chosen ones" for the presidential visit, said Liel, who thinks Obama's visit is less a compliment and more a protest, "coming to save the two-state solution and tell Israel to get its act together."

With a logo sporting intertwined flags, stars and colors, and an obligating name, Liel termed Israel's branding of the trip "a very clever spin on Netanyahu's part, a brilliant move to frame the visit." 

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