Israel’s PR is not the problem

By Ted Belman

When Israel loses yet another PR battle, many of her friends complain that Israel is partly to blame because she is woefully inept when it comes to PR. I am not one of them..

Glenn Jasper, Ruder Finn Israel, recently suggested that Israel should have all its spokesmen deliver the same message. After all, that’s what the Palestinians do. That might be a good idea except that Israel is a nation of presidents and each president will deliver his or her own message. They can’t be disciplined.

Alex Fishman suggested that Israel should consider the PR battle as more important than the military battle and organize accordingly.

    “Hence, the manager of this war on our side should not be the army via the IDF spokesman, but rather, someone on the highest national level, with the best professionals, who would have the knowledge and ability to write the “scripts” for the war and enforce them on all our executive arms, including the army.”

Good as these suggestions are, they don’t go to the heart of the matter.

To start with there is a coalition of forces including antisemites, leftists and Islamists, that are dedicated to Israel’s destruction. They couldn’t care less about truth and justice so a better PR campaign would be irrelevant. Then there is the main stream media that presents news to support their agenda rather than the truth. The fact that they suppressed the flotilla videos, which made Israel’s case better than a thousand words could have, is testimony to this fact. They have constructed a narrative in support of their agenda and any facts that are not in keeping with it, are ignored.

But there is something more going on that is little noticed and much determinative. Governments lead by the US also construct a narrative depending on their agenda and they don’t let truth and justice get in the way.

Long before the Oslo accords, the US began to suppress negative information on Arafat and the PLO as she wished to build a peace process around them. After the signing of the Oslo Accords, the US made no issue of the violation of the accords by Arafat. She was not about to let such violations scuttle the peace process. In effect Arafat could do whatever he wanted, and this included killing American diplomats, so long as he gave lip service to the peace process. Caroline Glick called the “peace process” an “appeasement process” the goal of which was, not peace, but appeasement.

Iran and Syria also learned this lesson. They could keep killing Americans in Iraq as long as they denied their complicity. The US rarely called them on this because if she did, she would have to do something about it.

President Bush waged a campaign against Syria to hold them accountable for the assassination of Harari and to get them out of Lebanon. Syria put up a strong enough fight to get Bush to abandon his original agenda. Bush then started a process of accommodating Syria rather than attacking her. Pres Obama continued this process. Now Syria is openly arming Hezbollah in violation of Res 1701 and aligning with Iran. The US response is to embrace her, to engage her, to send envoys and generally make nice. Obviously pointing the finger at Syria is inconsistent with the present US goals.

Similarly the US has been attempting to engage Iran and to co-opt her into helping in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thus the US refrained from supporting the green movement when it challenged the government. For the same reason she is unwilling to verbally attack Iran or to apply effective sanctions. She is even prepared to live with a nuclear Iran if only Iran will cooperate and even, if not.

In the last year or so Turkey has entered centre stage in the Middle East and is throwing her rhetorical weight around especially since backing the flotilla. Not one critical word did Obama utter. To the contrary he believes “Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process.”

Examples are legion but what has this to do with Israel’s efforts at public relations? Lots.

The flip side of this coin is that when the US wants to force someone to do something, either friend or foe, she must first demonize them. But the US can’t demonize a friend without a pretext so she first creates a crisis as her springboard.

In March of this year the US feigned outrage over Israel’s announcement of a housing project in Ramat Shlomo. This outrage legitimated the subsequent US attack on Israel.

Similarly, Israel’s legitimate self defense in the flotilla attack in which she killed nine violent “activists” was enough of a pretext for demonizing her and putting pressure on her. On May 31 after news of the deaths surfaced, Obama was a bit more restrained in his condemnation of Israel than his European allies and called for all the “facts and circumstances”. Had he been genuine in this, he would have, after the videos of the attack on the IDF went viral the next day, totally sided with Israel and nipped the demonization in the bud, but he didn’t. He had an agenda and he wanted to use this crisis to announce the blockade was “unsustainable”. He allowed the pressure to mount so he could achieve his ends.

Shelby Steele argues most convincingly that “the end game of this isolation effort is the nullification of Israel’s legitimacy as a nation”. He attributes this scape-goating of Israel to a “deficit of moral authority” in the West. While that is sadly true, it ignores the fact that realpolitik, which has taken hold of the Obama administration, dictates a similar result.

Yet I would argue that the pursuit of self interest by the US is assured greater success with Israel as a strong ally rather than without her.

This is not to say that Israel should cease its PR efforts. She shouldn’t. She should continue to provide her friends with the truth so that they maintain their friendship lest they be infected as well. Notwithstanding all the demonization she is subjected to and the realpolitik, she has managed to keep the goodwill of the American people and others who value truth and justice. Ultimately, this is her trump card.

June 27, 2010 | 56 Comments »

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6 Comments / 56 Comments

  1. yamit, don’t be too hard on Bill;

    Ouch, a three liner thrust to the jugular. I’m proud of you Charles. You said in 60 words more than my 800. I’m still working on technique.

    Laura is already an accredited Master.

  2. yamit, don’t be too hard on Bill; he is just a normal “interim pogrom” Jew who believes that assimilation, the absence of a kippa, and being reasonable will save his tuchus. As a lawyer who probably always aspired to be a judge, he fancies himself a dispassionate arbiter of the facts and wants to be equitable to both sides. He doesn’t realize that Jews don’t have the luxury.

  3. since ayn when a regular goes missing we start to be concerned.

    I know; it still seems surreal. I’ve been reading some of the articles and comments but have been too limited on time to pipe in. Right now I’m watching “Alex” and trying to figure out if I’m going to need to run from a hurricane or not. Israel has its dangers, we have ours; but you can’t defeat a hurricane militarily. Maybe the quartet or UN can pass resolutions against the hurricane or negotiate with it; land for peace? If not, maybe they will send flotillas or money. The least they could do is come up with a Road Map for the hurricane to make sure it doesn’t hurt anyone.

  4. Maybe what is really needed is a bunch of new people on earth to replace most of the ones that are here.

    Randy welcome back. Great idea.

    Let’s get rid of the hateful miserable bastards first, send them to a distant planet, then let’s try going it alone without them and just maybe it won’t be so bad.

  5. Whatever you think of Thomas Friedman, his voice is influential amongst many Jews and non-Jews.

    So You Say: Prove it.

    Today on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, Friedman was stating that whereas Israel once had credible reasons for resisting negotiations with the Palestinians, claiming they were not real partners for peace, that is no longer the case.

    So he said it. Does not make it so.

    Friedman contended that the Palestinians under Abbas/Fayaad have established a government, political and economic institutions that Israel had rpeviously called on them to do and a security force to maintain order. In these circumstances Friedman says that Israel can no longer resist meaningful negotiations with the Abbas/Fayaad government with a view to establishing the 2 state solution.

    At least one of two governments, what about Hamastan? What about 75% of Jordanians who claim to be Palestinian? What about the three million Palestinians in Lebanon and the rest of the world who reject Abbas? The PA is the prime employer of all so called Palestinians over 60%. It is Israel who employs them and gives them over a billion dollars per year all unaccounted for that is the main economic catalyst on the West Bank. The IDF protects Abbas otherwise he would be dead today. His popularity based on recent polls among all Palestinians is less than 10% and I’ve seen polls where he polled 2%, probably his own extended family.

    This is a partner? Institutions have been in place at least on paper from the Day Arafat landed in Gaza. So What? they are only shells without content or application. Their army was supposed to be a police force but have trained to be an army/ Against whom do you or that idiot Friedman suppose they will be used for and against? (Thank You America)

    Netanyahu, Friedman stated is reluctant to move into meaningful negotiations and thus must be forced by Obama to do that.

    That’s a joke, I wonder if he said that with a straight face?

    In a flamboyant flourish, Friedman said that with a big push from Obama, which is what is necessary, Netanyahu can then tell his caucaus and the Israeli people, that it is not he who wants to proceed to bring the 2 state solution to a final conclusion, but rather it is that “anti-semite in the White House, Obama” that is forcing him to move forward to that end game solution.

    We know that old tired excuse. That would be the quickest way to remove BB anf Friedman knows it. What he is advocating without saying it is he wants BB removed and a more compliant Government in it’s place. One has to be totally stupid, ignorant or naive not to see where Friedman is going and why.

    Friedman’s points do have some validity.

    Your words Narvey. How would you place yourself in any of the three categories I mentioned in the previous paragraph?

    There are however, many followers of Israpundit and like minded Jews and non-Jews who would angrily reject Friedman’s take on this situation. They would cite various factors that reveal Abbas/Fayaad are really wolves, similar to, if not just like Hamas though they have cloaked themselves in sheep’s clothing. All these factors, in spite of whatever valid points Friedman made, would tend to mitigate against Israel proceeding with such negotiations as Friedman calls for.

    Firsly speak for yourself. Secondly I don’t know what you are trying to say. You and Bill Clinton seem to have the same understanding of how to manipulate the English Language. Gives you deniability, when challenged. An old Lawyer trick?

    Friedman did not incidentally call for any meaningful pressure and conditions imposed on the Palestinians. His focus was on pressuring Israel.


    That said, Friedman as noted at the outset, does have his supporters amongst Jews and non-Jews.

    So do I whatr does that prove mr. Lawyer?

    Doubtless, Obama would look to and perhaps even cite, Friedman’s views and Jews and Jewish organizations that would agree with Friedman, to justify his thinking and continued pressure on Israel.

    Doubless? But he really doesn’t need Friedman’s stamp of approval. Most of the Jews are already in the tank and those few non Jews who read the almost Bankrupt NYT are irrelevant.

    As regards anti-Israel PR, it is comprised of organized political lobby groups, NGO’s and various Muslim, Christian and even Jewish organizations and institutions. It also includes respected pundits who weigh into the issues as Friedman does.

    Respected Pundit like Friedman? Like who? Besides you who also respects Friedman? Leftist and Liberal Fascists, That’s who! A few Pseudo intellectuals as well? Maybe?

    Contrary to what Ted Belman asserts, it should go without saying that pro-Israel PR that supports Netanyahu’s stance and calls for Israeli policy and action to be based on realities, not the least of which is intractable Jew/Israel hatred, would do well to have respected voices in their corner, such as Friedman who is onside with Obama.

    Very confusing here. You apparently understand BB better than all of us. BB is a realist who faces realities? Arabs and Mslims hate the Jews. Shit I’m glad you let us in on that fact. It must have escaped our collective cognizance till you informed us. Thanks Bill.

    Since Friedman has been anti Israel since he was nusrsed by his mother on rat poison or arsenic. I would guess that Obama agree with Friedman more than the converse.

    Not only does it behoove Israel to invest mightily in PR, so too must diaspora Jewry. It likely will not succeed in converting anti-semites to Jew lovers, but it could improve the chances that Obama’s juggernaut might be slowed, if not derailed and stopped altogether.

    Narvey tape your mirrors, you might accidentally fall through into another dimension, the one where normal sane people exist.

  6. Bill, we have a failure to communicate. I said that Israel’s PR is not the problem not a problem. Our failure to win hearts and mind are a function of the stacked deck and not our PR. That was my point. No matter what our PR we would still come out with the short end.

    I did not concede that they had some validity. I said that his point about institutions while correct to a degree, is irrellevant to the question of demanding Israel enter meaningful negotiations. So they had no validity on the question at hand.

    Your extended comment boiled down to we shouldn’t be reluctant to acknowledge where they are valid because we still have a stronger case to make. Hardly a point worth making because we do not hide from the truth.

    Now had you focused on his call for us to enter negotiations meaninful or otherwise, without a similar call to the PA, that would be a point worth making. The rest just got in the way. Also if you had selected a quote rather than paraphrase his remarks we could have been dealing with what he said rather than what you said he said.