We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
According to this, the problem with Israel’s PR is that it focuses on explaining and, when supported by facts, apologizing. For some, it may come off as whining. And, it is less effective than should be.
It fails to impress, convince or, even, penetrate many educated people, whose antagonism or skepticism toward Israel is entrenched.
The problem: Most believe they are well-informed about Israel, even when not, and are poorly informed about Israel’s enemies.When exposed, however, not to Israel’s side of the story but to the foes’ own words and actions, Eureka! Most of these Western antagonists or skeptics are shocked, enlightened and wonder how Israel can deal with such rigidly violent anti-Western forces so far from our norms of thinking and conduct except by Israel itself being resolute and willing to take the measures necessary in defense, including preemptively.
There’s much truth in this analysis.
Our media tends to focus on man bites dog. Israel earned such high regard for creating a miracle in the desert and a vibrant multi-everything democracy that it, ironically, provides the basis for shock to many when it operates as any other nation in the harshnesses of defense or human error.This is especially so when such acts are poorly explained by either Israel, taking for granted that the observer is adequately informed or fair-minded, or the explanations are blurred by reporters who themselves are among those in the West ill-informed and skeptical of Israel.
Conservatives, already suspicious of the major media, along with liberals with regular access to pro-Israel blogs, aren’t taken in by skepticism or malfunctioning journalism.
However, the assertions by extremists on the Left, pro-Palestinians, and some neo-isolationists on the Right now reach more receptive audiences untutored in the facts or just tired of the long, seemingly endless, fight.For example, even the facts of how some actions, such as the fencing that kept bombers out of Israel are unknown or ignored, as is the accommodations required by the Israeli Supreme Court. Instead, it is presented to them and accepted as akin to the Berlin Wall.
So, yes, there are reasons for Israel’s PR pickle. And, more and wider focus upon the lies and realities of Israel’s foes is needed, especially in the major media.
But there’s also some dangers there from blanket demonization, which obscures or ignores attention to bolstering the very few, and there are really very few, more moderate elements among Israel’s adversaries. A clearer and more energetic democracy agenda is needed, that also includes intolerance of any who exploit it, as did Hamas in the Gaza elections, and that provides moral and tangible support to enlarge the courage and numbers of decent people. That doesn’t mean committing US armed forces, just the funding of those whose values and actions are amenable to progress, and the blocking of any others whose values and actions aren’t.
This seems common sense. It hasn’t always been, until the present PR attacks upon Israel have borne such bitter fruit. The author of the analysis upon which the above linked post is based, Frank Luntz, and I had a verbal confrontation – before a Jewish group, which mostly agreed with Luntz -- at the 1996 Republican Convention over what is core to these matters and to what we should include among our priorities.
His focus groups exhibited little interest in foreign or security policy, despite the then current problems and germination of increased ones during the Clinton administration. Thus, he counseled Republicans to avoid or downplay such concerns, supposedly politically wise. Later that day I had a brief conversation with correctly respected George Schultz, who said to me that the Party powers just weren’t interested in the foreign or security issues, so it was a lost cause.
We’ve been paying for that attitude ever since.
This is compounded by another current observation from another Frank Luntz focus group. Jewish students at elite US universities failed to respond to virulent anti-Israel commentary from pro-Pal fellow students. “Kids on the left have been taught not to judge. Therefore those on the left will not judge between Israel and the Palestinians; those on the right will.”
We’ve been paying for this attitude as well.
So, Jewish man bites dog prevails over more openly and determinedly dealing with the feral dogs let loose by our own failings. Complexity and confusion can only prevail when simple truths are avoided.
One last comment: One doesn’t persuade those who might be open to it by attacking them but by presenting valid information useful to their own priorities, including those present but needing raising. That’s why it is counter-productive to hurl labels that put them off instead of engaging in civil discourse.
Many people don't realize the enormous amount of essential building materials, food, and fuel crossing the border FROM Israel TO Gaza today and every day except on those occasions when some moslem fanatic decides blow himself up at the border crossing, thus slowing the traffic. Yes, a serious PR failure indeed.
I rather suspect that the Israelis decided quite some time ago that PR was largely a waste of money (and time), i.e. no matter what we say, the world will despise us anyway - so screw it, better to spend the money dealing with the existential threats that surround us.