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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Only by being Prepared to Lose the PR War, can Israel Win It

There is one the hand self-congratulation over how much Israeli PR has improved, and on the other hand handwringing over how much better Israel's PR needs to be. And while the PR certainly has improved, it's a case of the wrong battle being fought on the wrong front. Israel's problem isn't PR, it's that Pro-Israel activists keep trying to make their case to an innately hostile left wing media in Europe and America. And making your case to a lynch mob is a waste of your time and energy.

Hamas and every Muslim terrorist group Israel or America fights knows the drill by now. Fall back into heavily populated civilian areas, set some booby traps, create a situation where a large number of civilians, particularly children, will be killed. Milk the resulting publicity for all it's worth with staged photo ops. If it doesn't work the first time around, rinse and repeat.

Once enough condemnations come in, followed by a call for a ceasefire, your leaders can emerge from their heavily fortified bunkers and declare victory. Another proxy battle won for Iran.

Sadly even Sharon's party had failed to learn from how well Sharon made Israeli assaults on terrorists so habitual and relentless, that the press and outraged pundits and politicians stopped caring. In the process he terrorized the chief terrorist himself, Yasser Arafat, after years of suicide bombings and terrorist attacks.

Instead Israel tries to fight a two front war, focusing on public relations and winning the fight, and inevitably winds up losing both. The PR war cripples Israel's military operations, forces its soldiers to operate under Rules of Engagements that endanger their lives, and time and time allows the terrorists to live to claim victory and fight another day.

Fighting a battle of opinion you can't win is a dead end. There are people who will naturally support Israel, there are those who will not. The dividing lines fall on such issues as basic positions on terrorism, the right of self-defense and Jewish identity. Israel's PR will not change such basic factors, it will not dissuade or persuade the press. PR cannot change identities, it will not transform people who believe that terrorism is a legitimate form of political protest or think that violence is always wrong, into decent human beings. It will not prevent the press from publishing staged photographs or maintaining its usual double standard toward Israel.

Israel's arguments will mainly be distributed and heard by Jews with a strong Jewish identity and Conservatives, and while there is validity in providing affirmation, it is mainly a case of preaching to the choir. And that will not win a war.

But as long as Israel believes in the importance of PR, that will hold Israel back on the battlefield and prevent the military from accomplishing its goals. PR becomes a crutch for failure and an incentive to give up before the job is done, ensuring that the whole process will then begin all over again.

The more importance Israel, or any Western government places on PR in a war, the more it becomes an Achilles heel, and terrorists have become quite savvy at manipulating the press and using the club of public opinion to turn their defeat into victory, and our victory into defeat. The best way for an underdog to win a PR war, when the system itself is turned against you, is to ignore the PR and disdain the system, draining its value as a strategic target.

The more Israel struggles for good PR, the more its enemies view it as a target worth holding. By contrast ignoring PR as Sharon often did, devalued the system and weakened it, making it suddenly irrelevant. And since the press is by definition irrelevant and depends on selling the hot air of public opinion, treating it as irrelevant turns an enemy's strong point, into one built on sand ready to let the tide sweep in.

The press will never tell Israel's story the way they tell the terrorist's story, but then the press has no incentive to do so, because Israel is all too painfully eager to tell its side of the story, and when its story is ignored, the press does not lose access and pays no price, even when it gives airtime to those calling for the destruction of Israel. Israel has set its own PR price so low, that its PR efforts are ultimately self-defeating and self-destructive, madly chasing after the approval of a media that has no interest in being fair to it. Only by setting its own PR price high, by limiting access and making it clear that there will be rewards and punishments, just as Fatah and Hamas have done to the press, will Israel even have a fair shot at the system.

For Israel the press can only be dealt with from a position of strength. Israel has fallen into the engineer's fallacy of assuming that strength equates to efficiency or competence. It does not. Being good at PR in Israel's situation requires leverage and devaluing the commodity, rather than pursuing excellence. It is only in being prepared to lose the PR war, that Israel can truly win it.

15 comments:

No Apology said...

It's just possible that Olmert has decided not to stand in the way of the IDF - and just let them do their job. PR be damned. However, the upcoming tough urban fighting is likely to test the resolve of all concerned.

Who will blink? Hamas has nothing to lose by fighting on. If only the Palestinians themselves would turn on Hamas...but who understands the Arab mind? They are all F'ing mad.

Lemon said...

cares more for their enemies than for Jews.

They allowed these people to bomb their citizens for a long time. They allowed suicide bombing, sniping , kidnapping for years and years and years and their biggest response was to bulldoze someone's stupid out house.

This will be "tough urban fighting" only because they still weep for their enemy more than for Jews.

Now there are cease fires to allow these evil twisted people to regain their strength.
Imagine in WW2 the allies allowing that for Germany ? For Japan..
here.. have some aid and food and medicines and guns and ammo so you can redouble your efforts against us. We love you , you know.

Truce, Truce!! We ran out of ammo.. let us get more bullets so we can wipe out Jews!!!

*puke*

Keli Ata said...

Excellent article!

In the war on PR Israel is losing. Israelis simply care too much what the press and the world think of them but my attitude is screw the press (except me) and the world.

To me it all boils down to blatant anti-Semitism. The average American viewer doesn't follow middle eastern politics so a brief video clip of a suffering Arab child or suffering Israeli child makes no difference to them.

Both are compelling stories and graphic images so why would the media pick one over the other from a purely journalistic standpoint?

It's only when the media presents one-side exclusively that it influences world opinion. Though that said, most of the world wouldn't lift a finger to help Israel so screw 'em.

Sigh. It really is sad watching Israelis bending over backwards trying to get the world to like them.

Going OT again but...I keep thinking about Sarah Palin. She was pro-Israel and so many Israelis seemed to latch on to her. Many were convinced she actually was Jewish and one person commenting on a news article thought she "looked Israeli."

There's a sad desperation and loneliness in that...to be liked...by someone that I find utterly heartbreaking.

But Israel's survival is on the line. The really must step out of character and fight with everything it has--PR be damned.

(and if the government must restrict access to some outlets, oh well. Too bad for them).

Sultan Knish said...

rolling over for the press is certainly not the way

Mrs. Anna T said...

All this pathetic groveling "let's show the world we're the good guys" is such a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

You must keep at the PR, even if it looks like it is failing but do not stop attacking Hamas. There is a change in European attitudes that has surprised me a little, many of us have been banging away at the corruption of the MSM and the Pallywood issues and I think that is striking home, Israel has done so much better with its PR, the PR is really there to explain Israels side and doing it well. There is a large number of people that need to see the truth especially in Europe, please for your sake back the Israeli PR effort, but the combat effort comes first.

Many of these idiots say things like they are all Hamas Hizbullah, I say that I am an Israeli.

DaffersD

Keli Ata said...

Daffers...In spite of everything I wrote I do believe in fighting lies about Israel in the media and have personally done so albeit in a very small outlet.

Every letter to the editor or op-ed column holds them accountable and exposes their lies. The truth is important.

So, too, is simply informing people. I know a lot of people who think the rockets shot at southern Israeli towns are just "home-made rockets" and not particularly dangerous.

They believe stuff like that because that's what the media spoon-feds them. And home-made rocket sounds relatively benign. When the media describes them as home-made rockets and compares the smoke of a kassam to the smoke of an Israeli bomb it does influence public opinion.


I can't recall ever hearing anything about Sderot on the mainstream or local media until this war started. A lot of people look at the Israeli force and see it as excessive because they don't know the background because the media hasn't informed them.

But more on topic with this post, I do believe if Israel cracked down on access to locations and information and military officials for comments and quotes it would force them to alter their coverage.

Which in turn could potentially influence public opinion and ultimately politics and politicians.

Hamas knows this well.

Yobeeone said...

And all the bombs hamas has is thanks to the billions Bush gave to Gaza.

USpace said...

.
They must destroy Hamas, they will be vilified in the MSM any way, they might as well get something out of it.

Hamas is what makes Gaza much worse than it could be. If they would give up the dream of destroying Israel and the Jews and stopped all missiles and suicide bombers, and all terrorist attacks, Israel would welcome doing business with them, and things would be peaceful. But they can't do this as long as they follow their Koran strictly.

There is no negotiating with a mad man, or with Jihadis who want to die to go get their 72 virgins.
I hope Israel doesn't quit too early. If Israel is destroyed, terrorism in the rest of the world will just increase, it will never stop, as long as there are Radical Muslims, or rather, Muslim Fundamentalists; who are appeased, defended, and kissed up to.
.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
let someone hit you

over and over again
and NEVER hit back harder

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
DO NOT defend your country

from terrorist monkeys
just let them bomb you at will

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
BOMB kindergartens

then piss and moan and whine
when their parents bomb you back

.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
never mock Hamas

it's just their religion
you RIGHT-WING INFIDEL
.
All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom.
.
What Really Happened in the MidEast?
.
Philosophy of Liberty Cartoon
.
Help Stop Terrorism Today!
.
USpace

:)
.

Anonymous said...

All real freedom starts with freedom of speech. Without freedom of speech there can be no real freedom. Totally agree...

Keli Ata
There was some reports of the missiles, but they always made them seem like fireworks, I had one discussion where I got that thrown at me and I offered to pay for him to go their for a week.

I think the message on the missiles has been received well and clear by normal people dispite the MSM, however they are still peeping through their conditioning by the MSM, so everything Israel can do has a great value, people in Europe should now be waking up to the threat even more with these fascists rioting in the capitals of Europe and telling everyone that they want to kill the Jews, some people are outraged that they are allowed to call for that in the street without reprecussions, perhaps we are at one of those end of the begining moments, I hope so, but Israel has to do what it needs to do, to really do as much damage to Hamas as possible, before withdrawing.

All the best

Daffersd

Doris Wise Montrose said...

It seems we Jews cannot get over the victim mentality. We are forever chasing after those who degrade and demean and cry out that no, no, we’re not like that. Instead we should collectively ignore them and just do what we have to do without constantly offering up explanations as to why what is printed is wrong. We should show the world the strength that we have had for close to 6000 years despite at least 3000 years of people trying to eliminate us from the earth. While almost all of them are gone and only heard from in the history books, we survive and will continue to survive. And while we are surviving, we are the People who gave the world civilization and continue to give to the world everything from life saving medical procedures and equipment, technology that is even used by the muslims to kill Jews and all other infidels, all manner of agricultural innovations that provide food to the world and even to the Muslims if they ever choose to feed their people instead of teach them to kill Jews, and Gd willing, alternatives to fuel so that the Arab countries will have to eat and bathe in their own oil. Oh yes, and in Sderot, the town that the international community has found it to be perfectly acceptable for men, women and children to live with a barrage of thousands of rockets fired from the Arabs in Gaza for the last seven years remains the home of the underground pop music scene. What other people in the entire world can say things like this.

Israel and the Jewish people are NOT victims. Victims don’t have these characteristics. The Jews have left the shetel.

Kyle said...

Who cares about PR, justice is all that matters!

Jolly said...

Does it not bother israel that there was a time the world stood with it and its right to exist , today, other than America, everyone has voted against you in the UN. Your PR needs to match your actions on ground. When you say we will grind Gazas face into the mud if it lobs rockets at us, fair argument; but when you continue expanding settlements into the West Bank against all agreements when the W Bank does not throw rockets at you, the world begins to wonder ...if David has now turned into Goliath.
There is no way Hamas can destroy Israel nor will the world let it happen, it's time Israel tried being magnanimous , as is expected of a victor who is here to stay.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Israel has been ridiculously magnanimous. Certainly far more so than nearly any other country would be in its place.

The Palestinian Authority does carry out terrorism from the West Bank and the entire term "Settlements" in ethnic cleansing patois.

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Israel has been ridiculously magnanimous. Certainly far more so than nearly any other country would be in its place.

The Palestinian Authority does carry out terrorism from the West Bank and the entire term "Settlements" in ethnic cleansing patois defining the residency of an ethnic group as illegitimate on account of that ethnicity.

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