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Sunday, March 09, 2008

Israel to distribute pictures of yeshiva horror (Hasbara failure #3)

From YNet:
Israel has decided to take advantage of Thursday's bloody terror attack in Jerusalem in order to launch an aggressive campaign against Hamas.

Yedioth Ahronoth has learned that the political echelon instructed the Government Press Office to distribute the shocking images from the yeshiva shooting worldwide, including pictures of holy books perforated with bullets, a blood-stained praying shawl and the terrorist's body inside the yeshiva.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni decided that the Foreign Ministry would work to convey the Israeli messages to the international community.
This, more than my last two posts, underlines the sheer incompetence of Israeli efforts to get its message out.

The massacre at Mercaz HaRav already has made headlines worldwide. The pictures have already been in the front pages. When Israel decides to "take advantage" of the massacre it smacks not of giving a message as much as opportunism. It is a third-rate version of Zaka's innovative campaign a few years ago of bringing the wreckage of a bombed bus to major European cities.

That idea was smart, because it showed thousands of people first-hand what terror looks like, using an object that they could relate to - a bus. Showing off bloody tzitzit, on the other hand, may evoke a reaction among Jews but to the world it could make Israel look like another fundamentalist theocracy. Beyond that, it just looks like propaganda, not new information.

In other words, Israel's insularity and isolation has made it unable to see things how others see them, which is a crucial skill needed when trying to master public relations. People are more sophisticated than they were thirty years ago and they know when they are being manipulated.

Israel needs to publicize stories like the ones I previously posted today. Stories that are either underreported or completely ignored, that show the terrorism for what it is, stories that educate the world rather than beat them with crude imagery and those that, above all, can be related to. The facts are on Israel's side but seemingly no one is interested in getting the facts out to the people who need to read them - the large numbers of people who are not overtly anti-Israel but just misinformed by years of good Arab publicity and poor Israeli PR.

The GOI together with the Israeli English-language media needs to wake up.