PR - Why Israel's Public Relations / Public Affairs is Suffering
| | Israel's
War on Palestinian Terrorism, Barbarism
Are people seeking the Nick
Berg video or this image
of murdered Israeli children on the Internet?
Israel News Agency
14, 2004....Who's winning the war?
Well before we can answer that question,
is it really a war?
According to the Palestinians, they are only throwing
rocks at Israeli tanks.
Their public relations machine is working. And working
And most of the world public has bought it hook, line and
sinker. As Palestinian terrorists attack Israeli tanks with missiles, rockets
and automatic gunfire, the world witnesses Palestinian children throwing rocks!
As Palestinian terrorists pump bullets into pregnant Jewish mothers and execute
Jewish babies we only see Reuters, AP and AFP images of injured Palestinian children.
to make matters worse, we here in Israel obsess about "body parts".
Who's winning the public relations war? The Palestinians are.
are engaged in two wars - a bloody, sweaty battle of bullets and a real-time digital
media war of words.
We are losing both fronts because Israel's governmental
public relations and public affairs machine is weak and ineffective. Almost as
weak as the metal in our APC's which was supposed to be protecting IDF soldiers
in Gaza from land mines.
The PR war defines public opinion, public opinion
decides governmental policy and that policy decides who wins. Ultimately, public
relations will decide Israel's future security. It's stature as a democracy, its
economic health and its very borders.
must take a very close, objective look at Israel's present PR efforts to understand
why we have and continue to lose.
That those who lead Israel's PR war are
more focused on domestic Israeli public opinion than world opinion or the opinion
of our enemies. Just look at who is in contact with the international media from
Who are these people? How old are they? What experience do they
have in crisis communications management? Who do they consult? How effective is
their coordination with other ministries? How free are they to act in real-time?
Do they have the backing of Israel's prime minister?
Yes, we do have a handful
of professional public affairs people in Jerusalem, when what is urgently required
is a well financed and professional army of media professionals.
yourself one question.
Is Israel's global image better today than it was
a year ago?
are but a few questions.
Israel is now too busy licking her wounds from the
tragic loss of 11 Israel Defense Force Givati and Combat engineering soldiers
in Gaza. Knee jerk responses of more Israeli military might may appease the Israeli
public today but it is impotent, it aint doing anything to deter the terrorists
who want Israelis drinking Mediterranean sea water.
Israel's approach with both weapons and words has never worked.
We are still
in battle after 56 years.
for the war of bullets, yes Israel is stronger, more potent and Israel knows that
it must use overwhelming force to win a war. But what kind of military force?
some of Israel's more recent conflicts, the IDF has used to a very limited degree
psychological operations - PsyOps. And when the IDF has used PsyOps in combat,
she has been more than successful. Israel's successful conclusion of the Palestinian
terror siege of Bethlehem's Church of Nativity is one fine example.
I write this editorial whose PsyOps are working? Israel or the Palestinians?
Jihad destroyed an Israeli APC in Gaza with a missile just days ago.
their successful attack, the Islamic terrorists held a news conference where they
discussed their winning operation. As they talked about how they destroyed an
Israel APC, the head of an Israeli soldier was sitting in front of them, displayed
for all to see. It was a disgusting and barbaric gesture, but it worked.
if they were in Hollywood, they had selected the most effective prop, a tool which
spoke more than their words. The grotesque image of a head of an Israeli soldier
did not penetrate our tanks or F-16's, rather it tore through our mental defenses
and exploded inside our collective psyche.
win this war we must play by the same rules as our enemy.
Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas and Fatah are no different than their brothers who decapitated
the heads of Wall Street Journalist Daniel Pearl and US businessman Nick Berg.
With both Pearl and Berg, they didn't just kill them.
posed them, filmed them, decapitated them and uploaded the footage knowing that
the Western world, which plays by different rules of combat, would see it within
twenty-four hours. They sawed off Nick Berg's head and held it in front of a camera.
It wasn't just an execution, it was a statement. A man's severed head was used
as a prop in the war of the words..
tension as the five hooded terrorists stood behind the Cornell graduate turned
telecommunications entrepreneur was difficult to bear, knowing how horribly the
vignette would end. Seeing the Jewish American Berg thrown down and brutalized
was even more difficult. The plaintive screams, the pool of blood, the sawing
across his neck and the ongoing religious chanting in the background repulsed
us in a way that we cannot articulate. The one thing that we remember was seeing
his lifeless head held in front of the camera and then to see it placed, on his
corpse as the camera continued to roll. There was something unspeakably grotesque
and unfathomable sad about his head being used to make a political argument.
this event any different from when the English decapitated Oliver Cromwell in
1658 and placed his head on exhibit for several years for all in London to see?
Yes, today we have the Internet and the power of electronic communications which
easily finds its way to the masses, into our homes, offices and finally the voting
What have Israelis learned from the barbaric lynching of two Israel Defense Force
reservists in Rahmallah? What have we learned from the Passover Massacre in Netanya
and the countless buses and restaurants which have been torn apart?
this very moment Israel is pouring more troops into Gaza.
We are focusing
on the physical dimensions of war with Israel intending to widen its security
corridor in southern Gaza along the Egyptian border. "It's a measure that
we are taking to provide better protection for armored personnel carriers and
the soldiers, and to reshape that theater of war so we will enjoy an advantage
and not the Palestinians," one Israeli official said about the Philadelphia
corridor where five troops were killed on Wednesday.
we need to widen the Philadelphia security corridor so that Palestinians will
think twice before digging more weapons smuggling tunnels, but we also need to
concentrate on the mental, emotional side of war.
a year ago, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told his cabinet that Israel needed to
confront the war of words in a more effective manner. The task for creating a
special governmental public relations committee integrated with private international
PR professionals was given to Cabinet Secretary Israel Maimon. Maimon was given
45 days to create a plan. That plan was never delivered nor implemented.
enemies are smart. They don't need tanks and F-16s. All they need is a computer
to upload images which will shock you. Images and soundbytes that will make you
fear them more than they fear us. To create a consensus to retreat from Gaza for
all of the wrong reasons.
Israel needs to withdraw from Gaza and let the
Palestinians destroy and eat themselves there.
No more Israeli electricity,
no more Israeli water, no more industrial zones, no more convoys of humanitarian
aid flowing in from Israel. Let Egypt and the Arab nation take care of their brothers
there. But we cannot and will not leave Gaza because of "body parts."
US was very much on point when they opened the Iraqi war with an expensive and
well thought out hi-tech "shock and awe" show of smart bombs hitting
their targets in Baghdad. As a military strategy, it is discussed at length in
a 1996 book published by the Command and Control Research Program (CCRP) within
the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense of the United States. Titled
Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance, the book describes shock and awe as
a strategy "aimed at influencing the will, perception, and understanding
of an adversary rather than simply destroying military capability." In this
respect, shock and awe bears a striking similarity to terrorism as propaganda,
in which psychological rather than material dominance is viewed as a primary war
objective. (The terrorist attacks of September 11 also induced "shock and
awe" in the U.S. population.)
We don't need to display the heads of Palestinians to win this war.
we do need is the immediate, urgent action of Ariel Sharon to deliver his promise
of creating a professional, effective governmental PR apparatus which would be
directly under his control with private, professional, crisis media logistical
film "Apocalypse Now" embraced and disclosed the horrors of contemporary
warfare and the realities to end it. It illustrated distinctions in combat culture.
Actor Marlon Brando who played a fictitious and genius Colonel Kurtz, was portrayed
as a "madman" who used the heads of the enemy as a determent. Kurtz
was playing the same game as the Viet Cong, using barbarism to strike fear into
the hearts and minds of the Viet Cong and win. The US was too politically correct
with its clean Amnesty International and Peace Now movements to accept these tactics.
So in the movie, Kurtz was assassinated by another US soldier and in real life
America lost the war.
is Israel's "shock and awe". Where is the creation of Israel's governmental
PR committee which would be responsible for coordinating this action and following
it up with effective soundbytes, spokespeople and Internet images? Why is the
Nick Berg video the number one request on the Net, when it should be images of
the four Jewish girls who were shot through the head last week in execution style.
Tali Hatuel, who was eight months pregnant, had been driving her car towards a
Gaza settlement when Islamic Palestinian terrorists opened fire on the car with
automatic weapons. In the panic, she lost control and lurched off the road. The
two Palestinian terrorists from Gaza rushed towards her firing their automatic
rifles, shooting through the windows at point blank range. There was no chance
of escape for the 34-year-old Israeli mother or her young, crying children Hila,
11, Hadar, nine, Roni, seven, and Merav, two.
Jewish children were still strapped to their child seats as the terrorists pumped
two bullets into each of their heads to confirm their "kill." When Israeli
rescue workers arrived they found the car riddled with bullets, the carpets, the
children's books and toys drenched in blood.
Yasser Arafat responded to the Jewish children's murder speaking of peace and
of Israeli war crimes in English as he continued to beg Palestinian children to
become suicide bombers in Arabic. The proverbial wolfe in sheep's clothing. Fine
PR tactics, really brilliant. In the world of commercial marketing we call this
"localized messaging, demographic branding." It's a professional strategy
And given that AP, Reuters and AFP only employ Palestinian reporters
in the West Bank and Gaza, we can be sure that the message coming from Arafat,
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah will be heard by millions worldwide.
is also a master with props. Although he stays away from decapitated heads, he
is remembered in the United Nations for holding up both a gun and an olive branch,
kissing the heads of dead Palestinian children, eating at his Rahmallah compound
by candle light, embracing master terrorist and Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin in
a wheelchair and finally, wearing a map of "Palestine" on his military
shirts' left shoulder which includes all of the State of Israel.
are Israel's props?
Yes, we have a few terror buses making the rounds in
New York and Washington, but where are the countless Palestinian suicide vests
for which we can provide to each and every lawmaker in Europe, Asia and North
America? Where are Israel's spokespeople on a Friday afternoon or a Saturday morning?
As the PA, the ISM and Machsom Watch hand out anti-Israel propaganda to journalists
and diplomats at Israeli security checkpoints, where are Israel's media teams
to counter this racist, hate material?
Where is Israel's real-time, crisis
public relations talking heads? And if we don't have the budget, then recruit
professionals as volunteers.
Finally, just perform a search on Google News
for the keyword "Israel" and ask yourself why is it that anti-Israeli
headlines overwhelm pro-Israel stories. Is it that we don't have enough English
news Webmasters in the world to create positive headlines?
we have killed Yassin and Rantisi. Yes, Israel has dropped leaflets by air in
Gaza. That was a good start. But we need to impress the Palestinian mind much
further, much deeper that if they wish to destroy this tiny, beautiful democratic
Jewish state, they will suffer countless nightmares. We are already accused by
the United Nations and our many Arab enemies of committing atrocities every hour.
What do we have to lose? Do we truly believe that Amnesty International and those
UN member states which are supported by Arab petrol dollars will be our friends
win this war we must play by the same rules as our enemy. The Americans in 1776,
who were greatly outnumbered, did not walk in open formation when they entered
the battlefield. They took cover from behind trees and rocks, ambushed by night
and changed the rules of warfare. They were called cowards by the Brits but in
the end, the creative "cowards" won the war. The British, who out of
collective pride could not adapt, lost.
don't need to display the heads of Palestinians to win this war. What we do need
is the immediate, urgent action of Ariel Sharon to deliver his promise
of creating a professional, effective governmental PR apparatus which would be
directly under his control with private, professional, crisis media logistical
It is time for Islamic terrorists and the populations which support them to fear
us more than we fear them.
The time for Israel's "shock and awe"
show has been long overdue.
APPOINTS COMMITTEE TO UPGRADE ISRAEL'S PR
8....The Israeli Cabinet established a committee yesterday to recommend measures
which would enhance the Government's international public relations efforts. Prime
Minister Sharon gave the assignment to Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon, who will
chair the new committee.
Two years ago, the Prime Minister appointed Tzippi Livni as Minister
in charge of Israel's public relations.
She was given the task of coordinating
the nation's PR - making sure that the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Ministry,
the IDF and the Ministry of Defense were on the same page. That one, powerful
and unified message came out of Jerusalem. Nothing happened.
a media professional who has worked the Israeli governmental and private public
relations / public affairs landscape for many years, I would not blame Livni for
the failure of her mission. She was assigned to work with government ministries,
ministries which totally lack professional PR people and strategic direction and
have an abundance of bureaucrats concerned only with their own egos and territory.
She was destined to fail.
Maimon share the same fate as Livni? I don't think so.
This monumental task
is the same - create one unified message coming out of Jerusalem, closer coordination
between government ministries, closer contact with journalists and a request for
a larger, more effective budget than the present 9 million dollars. But here is
the twist. Maimon will be working with private PR / public affairs professionals
- both in Israel and abroad. If these professionals are able to create a mechanism
which operates as a private, global PR firm - then we have a chance. If these
professionals can advise the Prime Minister's Office as to which sound bytes to
use and how to implement these messages - we have a chance.
times of war Israel pulls together as one large, diverse family.
illustrated during Operation Defensive Shield where all of the various government
ministries came together for daily morning briefings. Was their difference of
opinion at these meetings - yes, but at least we were operating as one machine.
What needed to get done - was accomplished. The territorial bureaucrats were basically
told to take a walk.
| If our troops
win on the ground but lose in the media - then whatever bullets they have spent,
whatever casualties sustained would have been wasted in vain.|
do I know these details - because I took part in these briefings. The present
Israeli Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Ayre Meckel, chaired these briefings.
We were working 24 / 7 and got the job done. At times, we were able to be creative,
very creative without having to ask authorization from paralyzed bureaucrats above
for permission. In war, in real time - there is no luxury for awaiting instructions.
Field officers need to take charge. As the war moved swiftly, so did nation's
war PR machine.
I remember advising one IDF officer, who had a live interview with one of the
world's leading networks, to smuggle an Islamic suicide vest (with fake explosives)
into the Jerusalem studio. No one checked us because we were IDF officers in uniform.
That was their first mistake. Then just as the interviewer welcomed the IDF spokesperson
and was ready to nail her with the so called Jenin Massacre, she took out the
"Before we continue, I just want to show you and our audience
something," she said. "This is a Palestinian suicide belt whose purpose
is to blow up innocent civilians in buses and restaurants," the officer said.
Then came the punch line. "You are all now dead - this studio has been blown
There was dead air. Dead air for about ten seconds. Can you imagine what "dead
air" is on a live, international news network which reaches hundreds of millions
of viewers? It sent home the message in the most potent manner that Israel was
at war defending herself. The interviewer could only muster up a meek and even
nervous response: "that was pretty dramatic." For which the IDF officer
replied: "that was pretty real." Again the studio was silent as the
cameramen, producers, sound people - everyone in the studio and the global audience
came face to face with the terrorism that Israel confronts on a daily basis. The
rest of the 15 minute interview was in our hands, talk of Jenin - one of the greatest
pieces of Arab propaganda - dissolved. This was professional PR crisis communications
management at it's best.
This was creative team work for which we need to
strive for as the the Prime Minister's Office again attempts to produce effective
PR crisis communications management for Israel.
second point that Maimom must confront is leaks.
All of the government's
PR strategy for Operation Defensive Shield and for Israel's possible involvement
in Gulf War part 2 were disclosed on an Internet PR Web site. To leak PR strategy
is no less evil than to leak the movement of our troops. If our troops win on
the ground but lose in the media - then whatever bullets they have spent and whatever
casualties sustained would have been wasted in vain.
needs a blank check of authority to get this critical job done.
not only affects Israel's security but has a direct impact on our economy.
|The Foreign Ministry
states that it is a matter of budget - I say that it is a matter of professionalism.
With half of the Foreign Ministry's present budget - Maimon can excel - if he
has professional, creative and dedicated private PR people working with him.|
Foreign Ministry states that it is a matter of budget - I say that it is a matter
With half of the Foreign Ministry's present budget - Maimon
can excel - if he has professional, creative and dedicated PR people working with
him. Names from government that come to mind - Danny Seaman, director of the Government
Press Office, David Baker, PR coordinator for the PM's office, Jill Reinarch of
the Foreign Ministry and Gil Kleinman, spokesperson of Israeli police. IDF Spokeswoman
Ruth Yaron is one of the most professional public affairs people to serve the
state, former UN ambassador Dore Gold and finally UJC Israel director, former
IBA general manager and IDF spokesperson Nachman Shai.
Now if Bibi could take
off his political hat and join this crew - you would then have the Israeli PR
all wish Yisrael Maimon the very best of success.
For if he is successful
- the country will profit with the saving of lives, economic stability and global
anti-Semitism will be confronted at a higher level.
Newspapers Fail Us
- Israel News Agency
at the Jerusalem Post, Israel's venerable English language daily newspaper, rumblings
of publisher/staff dissatisfaction are being heard loud and clear. Longtime managing
editor, Avi Hoffman was fired last week after he recommended pulling an ad that
included language he felt would expose Israel to charges of war crimes. New Post
editor Bret Stephens apparently agreed. Publisher Tom Rose was furious and ordered
Hoffman fired. The full page ad appeared last Friday. According to Aviv Lavie
writing in the rival Haaretz English edition, senior staff at the Post turned
to Stephens who told them he would back Hoffman in the dispute. Stephens, 28,
was in the US during the fracas, and can't be looking forward to returning to
a confrontation with his publisher."
Lash Balint, The Jerusalem Diaries, June 26, 2002
is no public relations or public affairs without a carrier. The most established
carrier is called a newspaper. And in Israel the only newspapers which enjoy abundant
readership and wealth are the Hebrew dailies Yediot, Maariv and Haaertz.
As for the English
newspapers here in Israel one is a mere translation of the Hebrew edition
and the other is fifty percent wire service copy. Yes there are some brilliant
writers on these papers but their voices become deluded when you have a lack of
proper leadership integrated with territorial disputes and corporate infighting.
The senior editors who are responsible for the news Web sites coming out of Israel
are among the most professional, experienced and creative in the business but
they are forced to work with almost nonexistent budgets. And at least one of these
English news Web sites gets no cooperation from the print team. There is no copy
desk. If mistakes appear on-line, print is ready to tear these front line communicators
apart rather than providing support and constructive criticism. When the ball
drops heavily on the toes of the Internet update editors, the senior Internet
editors are restricted by budget as to what they can do to improve aging hardware,
software and creating healthy levels of communication between Net and print news
staff. The editors go into survival mode to keep their own jobs and the young
editors are too afraid to speak out for support out of fear of becoming redundant.
But do we, the public, understand where the unintentionally made, sometimes misleading
encrypted headline and lag comes from? No. When the Israeli English news Websites
due to lack of budget carry less and are hours behind the Palestinian web sites
whose financial resources are greater - we lose the information war.
the Israeli PR message getting through the noise?
call one paper the Tel Aviv Times. This paper is traumatized from a publisher
and an editor-in-chief who are at each other throats. No I am not saying
that they disagree on issues they plainly loathe one another, there is
no communication and they have divided the paper into two fragmented camps.
True or not, many say
that the publisher is a very difficult person to work with and that since the
papers' establishment decades go, morale and resources have never been lower.
As for the editor-in-chief he is young, very young. I would not mind that
so much if he was an Israeli citizen. If he had served in the IDF. And if he was
able to read and speak Hebrew! How can you represent Israel when you don't understand
the Hebrew speaking evening news or what is being said in aisle 4 of the supermarket?
This is Israel. The guy writes excellent editorials, but has no sense of hard,
breaking news. Now, what happens when you lack as much as he does? You become
insecure. How does insecurity manifest itself you become arrogant. You
literally, with pride, call yourself a "dictator" to those you work
with. This man is a well-paid tourist steering Israel's right wing tabloid off
other newspaper, let's call it the Jerusalem Standard.
views are openly liberal in a time when Israel is literally bleeding.
red blood on the sidewalk is still warm from a suicide terror bombing attack on
vital arteries continue to hemorrhage as one in five Israelis do not have enough
food to feed themselves, when 25 percent of the population is unemployed.
Yet the paper calls
terrorists those who blow up buses and restaurants, "militants."
I understand the "militant" word. As a professional journalist you want,
you need to be balanced you need to maintain contact with both sides of
a conflict. But the other side here is calling for the total destruction of the
state of Israel. They are not interested in compromise. It's not in their vocabulary.
I say leave the word "militants" and the soft understandings
for those who butcher our children and babies on buses and restaurants to the
New York Times, Herald Tribune, AP and Reuters. Let them be neutral
they don't live here! They do not call this home.
If we have a message to get out, and I say "if" from the PM's office,
Foreign Ministry or the IDF spokesperson's office don't count on the English
Israeli press to deliver. They do from time to time. But one cannot live, cannot
survive from time to time.
the Jerusalem Standard, which has excellent leadership and a highly
professional and enlightened staff must turn right. The paper must use the talent
it nourishes and embraces to protect the country. As a liberal paper being printed
in a war zone, it only serves to demoralize. The paper has only one responsibility
today - to lead.
must. Not just through lengthy, verbose editorials, but through the very editorial
content we call hard news on page one.
for the Tel Aviv Times the staff is paralyzed. They don't for a
second entertain the idea of telling the editor-in-chief that he may be wrong
on this or that issue. This elitist editor-in-chief will respond: "don't
second guess me." I respond that's how Israel survives, that's how
we shine we second guess each other in the army and in business. This is
our pursuit to collective excellence and utter survival. The staff is afraid of
getting fired. For in today's market there is no market. So you say: "yes
understood, I understand," as you swallow your opinion and accept mediocrity.
Solution: the staff
of the Tel Aviv Times, which is an amazingly professional and talented
one whose only real Achilles' heel is the daily infighting over "beats"
- an issue which management does not manage, must collectively make immediate
urgently need to speak with the owners of the paper with one voice and deliver
a reality check for both the survival of the paper and the country for which it
is printed. The owners will listen - for if they can improve the quality of the
paper it can only translate into greater revenue.
print and Net editorial staff need professional, mature leadership, they deserve
better wages they must listen to the government and assist the PM's office,
the FM and the IDF to get the PR / public affairs job done.
this be accomplished. No. We are all too busy counting each and every cherished
shekel. Staring at each person who boards a bus or walks past the security guard
lined stores as we pray that a terror bomber is not within striking distance.
So as a few of our
Israeli newspaper editor-in-chiefs play cerebral masturbation as they collect
40 thousand shekels a month and enjoy obscure, academic verse from those who eat
breakfast at Harvard and Cambridge we suffer and await better days. Problem
is, we are losing the wars the security, economic and information wars.
If we don't start getting our PR messages out effectively with the greatest potency
for which we are physically, emotionally able to for the domestic, foreign public
and the Islamic extremist enemy who sits on our doorstep, we will be inviting
our worst nightmare to be realized since the second world war.
the Latest Public Affairs News from the Israel Defense Forces
PR RAPIDLY IMPROVES DURING GULF WAR 2
Regev, Yaron and Seaman Execute Brilliant Public Affairs Strategy
22.....In Hollywood an empty auditorium spells disaster, but today in the Government's
National Information Center in Tel Aviv the empty chairs epitomize success. Without
going into the fine details of governmental public affairs strategy - which would
only harm the nation - Jewish and Israeli media professionals can now be proud
of a public affairs apparatus which is equilvant to anything that Burson-Marsteller
or Hill and Knowlton could churn out!
Minister Ariel Sharon has placed the full power of his office and his own dedication
to make Israel's image shine at a time when the most ardent anti-semetics would
love to blame the Gulf War on Israel.
It was Sharon who appointed Brig. General
Miri Regev as Coordinator for Information during the Iraq War.
And Regev has
produced a strategy which is highly organized and effective. Implementing this
strategy is the Foreign Ministry, the Government Press Office, the Army Spokesperson's
Office, the National Police and many other ministries finally working with unity
and one message.
Press Office Director Danny Seaman was appointed by Sharon to direct the newly
established National Information Center in Tel Aviv. "It took months of planning,
but the result is a media oriented center structured for the best flow of information
for both the domestic Israeli public and international media outlets", says
Seaman. "We have unity of message and action. We have a smaller Information
Center set up at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem directed by Amir Gissin. We
coordinate our actions three times a day and make assessment reports."
When asked if the ministries are still arguing among themselves, Seaman gives
a firm "no". "When Sharon and his media advisor Arnon Pearlman
appointed Regev, they did so in a manner whereby one of the most important tasks
would be to establish a program where all of the ministries would maintain their
integrity while working together as one team. This has happened and we can see
the success of this action."
talented and experienced people make up the governmental team responsible for
representing Israel's image in March 2003. Danny Seaman's appointment as director
of the National Information Center in Tel Aviv was an excellent choice. Seaman,
one of the government's most intelligent, proactive and articulate spokespeople,
inherits one character trait that many in government lack - the ability to swallow
bureaucracy and harassment and persevere for the good of the country. Another
shining star who is constantly on her feet from the Foreign Ministry is Jill Reinarch
- dedicated and smiling 24 / 7. And we don't want to forget Supt. Gil Kleiman,
Foreign Media Spokesperson for the Israeli Police who has covered more terrorist
attacks throughout the country and retained his composure each and every time.
A true public affairs hero who rebounds from the grotesque sight of body parts
with articulate and balanced messages. A man who can still fight with a confident
Spokesperson Brig. General Ruth Yaron is impressing many people in her new IDF
Yaron is by far the most experienced and polished public affairs professional
to wear a career uniform in the history of the IDF.
Her recent appointment
of Col. Orly Gal to the position of Deputy Spokesperson places a highly organized
and experienced commander as her back-up in getting the job done. Another recent
move - the promotion of Captain Sharon Feingold to Major and as acting director
of the Foreign Press Branch was right on target. Feingold is highly motivated
and produces an excellent, warm and creative image when being interviewed by CNN,
Fox or Reuters. Lastly, for the duration of the Gulf War, Yaron has brought in
Col. Moshe Fogel (res.) to lead the Foreign Press Branch. Is Fogel qualified for
Very much so! Fogel has served as director of the Government
Press Office and was recently the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Science where
he handled the Ilan Ramon tragedy with the best and finest of professional and
For Yaron, she is concentrating on basically one task -
to keep the nation calm if attacked by Iraqi missiles. She will be the first face
that appears on Israeli television screens calmly informing the Israeli public
as to what has happened and the action that the IDF is taking to protect each
and every citizen. Yaron has gone through many dress rehearsals with the Homefront
Command in a newly built IDF studio in the Kirya (IDF High Command) for the worst
case situation. Let's pray that we will not see anything more than "rehearsals"
and that Yaron can get back to creating a better organization for the every day
operations of the Spokesperson's Office.
newly established National Information Center, based in the David Inter-Continental
Hotel, is a very impressive operation. As one walks into the carpeted ballroom
center you are immediately received by an IDF reception desk, followed by many
other Ministry desks and offices. The tone is low key, you don't find typical
Israeli, Mideast culturally aggressive behavior here. This is a soft sell. For
when peddling truthful and accurate information - one does not need to be aggressive.
Within 60 seconds you can find yourself in a huge Communications Room which has
over 40 computers and another 40 laptop stations designed to provide rapid Internet
connections. Israel's largest ISP - Netvision - is responsible for the Internet
and computer operations and has at least one very friendly supervisor approaching
all who tap the keyboards asking if they need assistance. Courteous service has
arrived in Israel!
As one looks up from one of the many computer terminals
- four large color screens hang from the room's ceiling - projecting the latest
news from four local and international television networks. Immediately adjacent
to the Communications Room is a large briefing center with space for over 400
journalists. A large stage is set up at the back of the room with signs reserving
space for CNN, BBC and Sky camera crews. At the other end of the room is a podium
with Israeli flags draped on each side. The room is dark. Not one briefing has
taken place. But Israel is ready.
INA asked Seaman how he feels about having an empty press center. Perhaps only
a handful of reporters can be seen within the entire complex. "Let's hope
it continues this way," states Seaman. "We should always be prepared
and have little to do."
the worst of times the best of Israel has always stood up and is today making
a true difference in the information war. We all have much to be proud of as Israel
slowly but successfully adapts to the art of international media relations.
Abba Eban would be smiling today if he would have lived to witness how these various
ministries, with a variety of agendas and egos are working together - finally
- as one team - as one nation.
Mourns the Loss of Abba Eban,
the Government's First Public Affairs Professional
DANNY SEAMAN SPEAKS OUT
16......There are very few Israeli public relations / public affairs spokespeople
who work for Israeli government ministries who are truly professional in working
with the foreign media in Israel, in addition to being courageous enough to take
Seaman, is one of these professionals. An honest, clean and fresh breeze which
permeates through the dusty and beaucratic offices in Jerusalem.
Israel Government Press Office Director Danny Seaman speaks his mind without fear
with GPO Director Danny Seaman
Kol Ha'Ir -----October 11........ Danny Seaman knows exactly why the State of
Israel looks so bad on television screens around the world.
"At the direct
instruction of the Palestinian Authority," explains the director of the Government
Press Office (GPO), "the offices of the foreign networks in Jerusalem are
compelled to hire Palestinian directors and producers. Those people determine
what is broadcast. The journalists will certainly deny that, but that is reality."
What makes you so sure?
"A lot of sources that, if exposed, will
be compromised professionally.
Those are people who were outraged by the events
in those offices."
Q: Which offices are we talking about?
most senior are the Associated Press and Reuters, which provide information to
hundreds of millions of people around the world. On the
second level are the
major television networks, CNN and the BBC, and the American stations, ABC and
Seaman claims that the Palestinian workers at the various networks
with complete coordination. But that is nothing. "Three senior producers,"
alleges the GPO director with deep internal conviction, "were coordinated
with Marwan Barghouti. He used to call them and inform them about what was about
to happen. They always received early warning about gunfire on Gilo.
they shot for TV only the Israeli response fire on Beit Jala. Those
advised Barghouti how to get the Palestinian message across better."
After the accusations give me some names.
"I'm not prepared
to divulge details. Everyone who deals with this
knows who they are."
In his professional capacity Seaman mediates between the foreign journalists and
the various authorities in Israel. While the latter receive ample representation,
the former are perceived as a rather bothersome nuisance. Seaman is not ashamed
to admit it.
He considers the foreign correspondents to be a bunch of spoiled
brats that until now has received privileged conditions and has repaid that by
giving back the finger.
"They've grown accustomed to being treated very
freely in Israel," said
Seaman, "but the liberty that we gave them
Seaman, a civil servant, does not mince words when he describes
the foreign media's conduct in Israel. He levels harsh accusations at the foreign
correspondents, some of which sound rather odd. Not only are they entwined with
the Palestinian Authority by means of a Gordian knot, but
they also steal
Israelis' livelihoods. But things here will be A.O.K soon enough. Seaman will
set those gentiles straight.
Last week Ma'ariv reported that the GPO would issue press cards to foreign photographers
and production staffers only if they obtained a work permit from the Labor and
Welfare Ministry and a visa from the Interior Ministry. At stake is an old law
that has never been enforced until now. It means that the number of foreign workers
in offices in Israel is expected to
be cut substantially. But even before
Seaman decided to revoke the press
cards from all the residents of the territories.
Officials at the news agencies and the networks find it very difficult
understand, or at least feign innocence, as to what exactly it is that Danny Seaman
wants from them. Israelis, after all, are barred from entering the
say the office managers and, therefore, without foreign
Palestinian reporters it is very difficult to work and
perhaps even impossible.
They reject with disdain Seaman's allegations
about pro-Palestinian coverage.
"I've had Palestinian workers for years already,"
says Charles Enderlin,
the veteran France 2 TV correspondent, "and they have proven their professionalism.
Regardless, there is no bureau chief who allows his Palestinian assistant to decide
what is broadcast. I deny that allegation outright."
"We don't make
the news, we only broadcast it," say the foreign journalists defensively.
Quite a few of them feel, even if they won't say so explicitly, that someone who
didn't like the message has decided to kill the messenger.
Seaman, 41, was born in Germany. His father was a member of the US Airforce, and
his family followed him around across the world. In 1971 they immigrated to Israel
and settled in Ashkelon. Seaman served in the paratroopers, and after his discharge
studied political science in New
At the same time he also began
to do public relations work for the Israeli consulate in New York. When he returned
to Israel in 1990 he found work in
the GPO. He spent two years with the IDF
Spokesman's Office, and in January
2001 was appointed director of the GPO.
"I am the first director who was
not appointed for political reasons,"
he says proudly.
Seaman defines his job as "dual and restrictive. On
the one hand, I
need to represent the State of Israel and its interests to
the foreign media,
and on the other hand, I am supposed to represent the
foreign reporters to the
government and to create an appropriate media atmosphere
the one role supersedes and other times the other
Q: Which is more dominant now?
"Today there is a greater
need to look out for the State of Israel's interests because we are in an emergency
The impression is that Israel has nothing to be concerned
is doing his job. He always arrives at the scenes of the major
attacks and tries to help the journalists gain access as quickly as
possible to the material. Seaman has also made a point of attending Marwan Barghouti's
trial. "The GPO is not covering the trial," he explains, "but it
would be negligent were we not to capitalize on this event for public relations.
Our job is to allow coverage." MK Ahmed Tibi, who also has used
for public relations purposes, is angry at Seaman. "Seaman's behavior in
the court room is beyond the pale," says Tibi. "He asks the journalists
to interview the families of terror victims. That is none of his business, that
is an editor's job."
Seaman fought back: "Ahmed Tibi would be pleased
were the State of Israel
not to exist at all," says Seaman. "So
he finds it jarring that the state
is doing its job. I would urge him to
learn to respect the courts before he
comments to me about how to do my job."
Seaman has a clear understanding about how the Palestinians succeeded in seizing
control of the television screens. He said that in the 1980s the
began to nurture young people who would work with the foreign
press. He also
alleges that all of the Palestinians who work with the media
took a course
in media manipulation at Bir Zeit University.
The effort paid off, if one
is to believe Seaman. "For years," he explained, "the foreign reporters
created a kind of romanticism surrounding the Palestinians' struggle. They adopted
their point of view and their
terminology." Seaman, who claims to be
apolitical, said this process was exacerbated also by the "discourse in Israel.
From the moment that the old Land of Israel lost the elections in 1977 the delegitimizing
that was done to all the right wing leaders, Begin, Shamir, Netanyahu and Sharon,
contributed to the struggle to delegitimize that the Palestinians launched in
Seaman is convinced that the foreign journalists were able to
move about the territories freely and speak with whomever they wanted before Arafat's
arrival. "From the moment Arafat arrived," explains Seaman, "their
dependence on Palestinian media staffers grew. And the more the PA tightened its
hold on the ground and the closer the date of the conflict grew, the Palestinian
hold on the foreign press became firmer. Four years ago began the threats on the
Israeli staffers, including Arabs from East Jerusalem.
The Palestinians let
the foreign journalists understand: if you don't work
with our people we'll
sever contact with you, you won't have access to
sources of information and
you won't get interviews."
Seaman is certain that the overwhelming majority
of the media bowed to
this pressure. He is not prepared to give any credit
to the Palestinian journalists who work in the foreign networks. "Today we
know," Seaman says in a heated tone, "that the entire Mohammed a-Dura
incident was staged in advance by the Palestinian Authority in collusion with
photographers, who worked for the foreign networks. In my opinion,
that is the incident that really began the Intifada. Until then it hadn't caught
Palestinian stills photographers are also part of the game. "They always
stage photographs," says Seaman unequivocally and states that he is prepared
to be taken to court for libel. "The IDF announces that it is going in to
demolish an empty house, but somehow afterwards you see a picture of a crying
child sitting on the rubble. There is an economic level to that. The Palestinian
photographers receive from the foreign agencies 300 dollars for good pictures;
that is why they deliberately create provocation with the soldiers. They've degraded
photography to prostitution."
gives the foreign media a five on a scale of one to ten for its coverage of the
events in the past two years. As noted, he believes that nearly all of them
are infected. "They're hostile," he says, and itemizes: they being the
French, the Spaniards, the BBC. The hostility manifests itself in the writing,
the tendentious footage, the automatic adoption of the Palestinian version and
the immediate suspicion of the Israeli version. In the course of the siege on
Bethlehem the Palestinians claimed that we killed a monk. No one bothered to pick
up the phone and speak to the Pope's representative to
hear from him that
nothing of the kind had happened."
Seaman has no problem harping on the
Europeans' conscience. "I accuse,"
he says without a moment of hesitation,
"particularly the European press.
The correspondents reported about every
slander against Israel as if it
were a fact. The negligence of their coverage
contributed to the anti-Semitism
that is now making rounds on the continent,
and that ought to lie heavily on their consciences."
Western journalists received special attention from the GPO.
issue was a lack of attention. Seaman has no problem naming
Goldberg from the British Guardian, Lee Hockstader from the Washington Post, Sandro
Contenta from the Toronto Star and Gillian Findlay from ABC. Seaman accuses each
one of the four of inaccurate reporting, to understate things. Now, none of the
four are in Israel any longer. "We simply boycotted them," recounts
Seaman. "We didn't revoke their press cards, because this is a democratic
country. But in the name of that same
value I also have the right not work
with them. The editorial boards got the message and replaced their people. When
the Washington Post saw that a
smaller newspaper, such as the Baltimore Sun,
was getting exclusive material, they understood that they had a problem."
Some of those who were ousted have come out ahead. Suzanne Goldberg was promoted
to Washington, and the one reporter who made it big is Rula Amin.
Palestinian reporter for CNN whose reports from here in Operation Defensive Shield
were perceived by many as being authored by the Palestinian
now reports from Baghdad and has a lot of screen time.
Seaman tries to stay
calm. "When the CNN executives visited here," he says, "they led
us to understand that if we drop the issue of her, she would find
on the way out. The fact that she is now in Baghdad attests to the
level of the network and to the [value of] the word of its executives."
When the Kol Ha'Ir photographer asked to take Seaman's picture against the backdrop
of a television screen, he agreed only if the television was turned to Fox, the
cheaper alternative that the cable companies found to CNN. Seaman says he does
not regret the impending loss. "Personally, I don't like CNN's broadcasts
in Israel," he says, "because it is their European
network. If it
were the American network maybe it would disturb me more."
Foreign reporters and editors at the JCS building on Jaffa road in Jerusalem,
where the offices of some of the leading foreign media services in the world are
located, were rather stunned this week by Seaman's statements. "I cannot
believe," says Charles Enderlin, "that Mr. Seaman,
of the Government Press Office, would make those kinds of accusations. If that
is how they want to do public relations here then I don't understand a thing about
the country that I've been living in for the past 34 years."
says that there were isolated instances of Palestinian pressure on local issues.
He said that the Foreign Press Association in Israel found an appropriate response:
"We decided that if a photographer from one of the networks captures a picture
that the PA wants to confiscate then everyone is allowed to use it." Another
senior journalist admits that some of the Palestinian journalists must naturally
support the Palestinian national struggle, but he stresses that he encounters
far more often displays of courage. "It is very difficult to produce free
media in the territories today, but they succeed in doing that," says the
response to this article, Tim Heritage, the bureau chief at Reuters, said "Seaman's
accusations are absurd and baseless."
Andrew Steele, the BBC Jerusalem
bureau chief, said: "The BBC has an international reputation because of its
objectivity and balance. The thought that a few of our more experienced journalists
suddenly developed complete dependency on Palestinian sources and that the Palestinian
workers decide which news will be broadcast abroad could be funny if it were not
so insulting. It is even more infuriating when one bears in mind that Mr. Seaman's
office has been barring press cards from our Palestinian staff members."
Poor Coordination of Israel's Public Relations Effort
7......Israel's official public relations bodies fail to coordinate, wasting resources
and damaging Israel's efforts to explain its position, the state comptroller found
in an audit of Israel's official spokesmen on foreign affairs and security.
audit included the prime minister's media advisor, the Government Press Office,
the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry, the army, the Internal Security Ministry
and the police.
comptroller found that despite repeated efforts to improve the state's official
spokesmanship, there is still no coordinated information system to address the
country's needs in a time of conflict.
the intifada the Foreign Ministry tried to coordinate the efforts of the various
bodies. New forums were created but they dissolved shortly after they began operating.
The ministry told the comptroller that without formal authority it could not force
the other bodies to participate in those forums.
audit found areas of responsibility were not divided among the Foreign Ministry,
the Defense Ministry and the army regarding the foreign press, nor were joint
procedures formulated. Any cooperation that did occur was based on individual
initiatives. The result was that during the intifada there were many mishaps "that
damaged Israel's public relation efforts overseas."
comptroller stated as an example of the lack of coordination the information efforts
surrounding the capture of the weapons-bearing ship Karin A.
Foreign Ministry spokesman's office was not brought up to date and even after
the first announcement of the ship's capture, most of the information about it
was issued by the IDF without coordinating with the Foreign Ministry. The IDF
held an initial press conference and another one two days later in Eilat with
the prime minister, without his office being involved in the planning. The
head of the Government Press Office also heard about the ship's capture on the
radio and his office was not involved in disseminating the information. The result
was that the handling of the foreign press was faulty.
comptroller found that the decision from August 2001 to put Tzippi Livni in charge
of public relations in the prime minister's office was not executed. Livni said
that in the absence of backing, the matter remained as a mere idea. She told the
comptroller the job was not given contents or authorities and she received no
support even from the prime minister's office itself. The
comptroller said the decision to establish a media division in the prime minister's
office, taken during Ehud Barak's term, harmed the Government Press Office, which
had over the years developed close relationships with the foreign press in Israel.
reexamining the information bodies and the role of the Government Press Office
in national spokesmanship.
Foreign Ministry was found to have faltered in dealing with the foreign press
under conditions of an ongoing conflict.
responses in the first months were based on "improvisation."
to the Arab world was also mishandled and Israel did not manage to confront Palestinian
propaganda and incitement. The Defense Ministry conducted its own public relations
in an unsystematic manner and without coordination with the Foreign Ministry.
was not prepared either to confront Arab propaganda, the comptroller added, and
recommended viewing the threat of a propaganda campaign as a strategic threat
and dealing with it as such.
IDF responded it had decided to devote resources to the matter soon.
comptroller thinks the multitude of information bodies is wasteful and inefficient.
He recommends establishing an overseeing authority to direct national public relations
efforts. Meanwhile, each of the information bodies has to correct its own faults.
In response to
the report, the IDF said it is "making great efforts to improve" on
the issues raised.
efforts include establishing reciprocal relations between professional sources
in the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Defense Ministry
who deal with spokesmanship and public relation issues and that the Prime Minister's
Office be responsible for such a body.
army said it has invested great efforts in restructuring and rebuilding the spokesman's
division and improving coordination between officers serving at the IDF Spokesman's
department and operational units.
communicated by The Jerusalem Post
AND ISRAEL21c PRODUCE FIRST-EVER TV ADS
TO EDUCATE AMERICAN PUBLIC ON ISRAELI
18.....It is with the highest professional respect that the Israel News Agency
congratulates both the AJC and Israel21c for having made a potent and effective
impact on Israeli public affairs.
Below is their news release from today:
JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS UNVEIL UNPRECEDENTED NATIONAL TELEVISION AD CAMPAIGN
Jewish Committee and ISRAEL21c Announce First-Ever Television Commercials Educating
Americans About Israel's Vibrant Democracy
New York, NY; September 18th-Taking unprecedented action, two American Jewish
organizations-the American Jewish Committee and ISRAEL21c-have launched a national
television advertising campaign designed to increase America's appreciation for
Israel's democratic society and the individual freedoms of all its citizens.
Launched in Washington, DC on September 12th, to coincide with the beginning of
the Jewish New Year, a time of hope and optimism for the future, the two 30-second
ads highlight the vibrancy of Israel's democracy and the values it shares with
Each of the spots, one sponsored by the American Jewish Committee
and the other sponsored by ISRAEL21c, utilizes vivid pictures and words to convey
the vitality of Israeli society, where, like in the United States, every citizen-Arab,
Christian, or Jew-enjoys the right to vote, every individual-Muslim, Christian
or Jew-enjoys freedom of religion, and every person-male or female-enjoys emancipation
and equal access to education, employment and health care.
core values of democracy and pluralism are at the heart of making this world a
better place. Until people have freedom of speech, the right to vote, and the
opportunity to succeed, this world will continue to see repression and wars,"
said David A. Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. "The
continuing strength of the affinity Americans feel towards Israelis stands squarely
on these shared values. The fact is that Israel is the only real democracy in
the Middle East - a region desperately in need of reforms, freedom, and hope."
"We want Americans to
know just how much Israel and the united States have in common," said Zvi
Alon, founder and chairman of ISRAEL21c. "In Israel, democracy means every
citizen of Israel, both Arab and Jew, enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities
as Americans have in the United States.
We want every American to know that
in Israel's democracy, Arabs and women vote, in fact 17 women and 10 Arabs have
seats in the Israeli parliament."
Mr. Harris continued, "We want
to remind people across the country that Israel was founded as a democracy more
than 54 years ago, and though she has not known a day of real peace, democracy
has flourished," he said. "Israel is a country with one million Arab
citizens, and where each of them has more freedoms than in almost any of the 22
Mr. Alon added, "The Jewish New Year is a time of
hope and a time of renewal. That is why we have decided to begin now-together
with the American Jewish Committee-to help increase awareness and understanding
of these issues."
For the American Jewish Committee, producing a television ad is a natural step
in AJC's overall advocacy efforts on behalf of Israel. Founded in 1906, AJC is
the United States' oldest human relations agency, and its central mission is advancing
democracy, pluralism and mutual understanding through education and diplomacy.
It has more than 120,000 members. Mr. Harris has been delivering similar messages
every other week on major radio stations for more than a year in New York and
several other major cities across the nation with the knowledge that a strong
Israel will bring an even stronger America since protecting freedom is in everyone's
For ISRAEL21c, a Cupertino, California-based non-profit founded
just after the beginning of the second Intifada, the television campaign is a
natural progression as well. Its mission is to focus public and media attention
on the Israel that exists beyond the conflict; the Israel of high tech development
and advanced medical research; the Israel that is a force for decency and democracy
in the world. The TV ad's democracy message is a perfect extension of the organization's
educational and informational objectives which began with its website in November
note: You can view the 30 second spot by clicking on
the following words: AJC
MEDIA RESEARCH PROS COME TO ISRAEL
24........A professional group of US media marketing professionals have come to
Israel, bringing badly needed media research to the attention of the IDF, Prime
Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry.
They have done what almost no
other media group has accomplished - spoken to the MFA, PM's Office and the IDF
The Washington based group has been responsible for conducting focus and "dialing
groups" in the US to measure what topics and words work and which don't for
Israel's spokespeople. The only problem is that for all the many hours and weeks
that they have spent in accumulating this research, coordinating meetings and
passing this material on in confidence here in Israel - it has all been leaked
to the press. We are not addressing their noble efforts, we are saying that all
that they have said and done in closed door meetings in Israel, the fine details
of their research has been posted on a US PR Website!
polls were commissioned by The Israel PR Project, an effort to improve Israel's
image initiated, coordinated and partially funded by Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi,
a political consultant, with support from several national Jewish organizations
and private foundations. Stanley Greenberg, who was President Bill Clinton's pollster,
Frank Luntz, a top Republican researcher and Lenny Ben-David, former Israeli
US Embassy staffer and AIPAC professional have also contributed to this excellent
and highly focused effort.
The findings have been distributed to over 1,000 Jewish leaders and activists
in recent days. An excellent move for a leak to occur! It takes only one Jewish
leader, who disagrees with the Sharon government, to expose this sensitive research
to the PA and to Damascus, Baghdad, and other Arab capitals to undermine this
Israel PR Project, which has been sponsored by the American Jewish Committee
and some praise worthy venture capitalists in California, has performed
one of the most professional endeavors of any US media group to come to Jerusalem.
Real pros with excellent and creative ideas!
the research's findings, the AJC is scheduled to launch a national but modest
PR advertising campaign, according to executive director David Harris, of
at least one 30-second ad, and possibly more, on four cable news channels: CNN,
MSNBC, Fox and CNBC. Time
has been purchased for these public affairs spots to be aired after Labor Day
and run for a period of weeks. The campaign is believed to be the first of its
kind sponsored by a national Jewish organization on behalf of Israel.
As these spots begin to run in the States, the group has wasted no time in taking
the advice of Israeli spokespeople to now focus their research efforts on Europe.
We only trust that this group will now be wise enough to limit the dissemination
of their new research material to the spokespeople of the IDF, MFA and PM's office
- and not the hundreds of lay leaders in the global Jewish community and members
of the international general and Jewish media.
It would also be wise for this American based group of PR professionals to take
advantage of some very seasoned, international American-Israeli PR professionals
living and working in Israel. By incorporating these Israeli based, on-site professionals
for media training and other PR related activities, would be cost-effective in
addition to saving time in real-time crisis situations.
By effectively integrating
both the American pros and the Israeli - Americans consultants based in Israel,
who are working and consulting with the Israeli spokespeople here in Israel on
a daily basis, would make this a truly global team.
Israel's governmental spokespeople can get their act together to deliver one potent
message, knowing what and how to say it in Jerusalem to the international media
based here, then the dissemination of this research material will quickly and
professionally filter down to secondary spokespeople in the US, Europe and Asia.
Israel News Agency congratulates these creative, dedicated media and political
polling professionals for coming to Israel's aid in a most critical time.
ITZIK AS AMBASSADOR TO ENGLAND?
Sharon and Peres
Ready to Create PR Disaster in Europe
17.........PM Sharon and FM Peres agree on very little. And when they do compromise,
the solution sometimes results in a toxic mix. Both Sharon and Peres have agreed
this week to appoint non-English speaking Israeli Trade Minister Dalia Itzik as
ambassador to England.
PR is weakest in Europe. European media could not be more negative as we witness
daily boycotts of Israel by European countries. Israel's PM and FM have just made
the ultimate statement reflecting their personal and professional perspectives
of Israel's image in the global market. They want to send a non-English speaking
Israeli to London.
Please don't misunderstand. We are not talking about an
Israeli who is fluent or semi-fluent speaking with a heavy Israeli accent. We
are talking about someone whose English is barely on a "survival level"
- "good morning", "how are you" and "good night".
We are talking about an intelligent individual who is a tiger in her native Hebrew,
but less than a kitten in English.
How will Dalia Itzik defend Israel against
the relentless media attacks on Israel by the English press - by the European
media? She cannot hide behind her press officer forever. She will be asked to
speak and comment - how will she do that? Why don't we just hire Yassar Arafat's
press aide, he will do less damage!
once Israel's Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which has taken so many black eyes
for Israel's image abroad, has said: "enough."
The Foreign Ministry
workers union is set to meet with senior ministry staff to coordinate a response
to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres's appointment of Industry and Trade Minister
Dalia Itzik as ambassador to the United Kingdom.
The union plans to discuss
measures to fight political appointments in general and Itzik's in particular,
including striking, not cooperating with political appointees, and asking Civil
Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander to rule her appointment illegal.
to Civil Service Commission regulations, "It is forbidden for appointees
to have a personal or political link to a minister in the government unless they
have special skills appropriate for the job." "I expect Hollander to
check whether she has special skills in the English language, for example, that
make her more suitable," a top Foreign Ministry official said, scoffing at
her lack of proficiency in the language.
language is not the whole story, language is just a tool," the official said.
"...Israel's public relations problems tend to be at their worst in the places
where political appointees are serving."
applaud the actions of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. They are not acting out of
jealously - wanting one of their own to be an ambassador, but rather responding
on behalf of the whole country and the worldwide Jewish community in saying please
place a professional representative in London. Someone who can effectively
articulate Israel's foreign policy in the language of the country for which
they will be serving.
if you are looking to put your finger on why Israel's PR is suffering - just look
at the top - the very top - look at Sharon and Peres and remember that they wanted
to place Itzik as ambassador to London!
We pray that Itzik will refuse this
post, avoid personal and national embarrassment and continue in her domestic role
as Minister of Trade - this is where this tigress is needed most.
MAKES DESPERATE ATTEMPT TO MAINTAIN POSITIONING IN MIDDLE-EAST
26......CNN and Israel. The two have never been close friends.
CNN has had
a long history of reporting from Jerusalem with tainted eyes. Never using the
word "terrorism" to describe Islamic suicide bombers who tear apart
Jewish babies and children in buses and restaurants. At one point in their 20
something history in Israel, one CNN bureau chief had actually changed the sign
in their office under an international clock to read Palestine, rather than Jerusalem!
CNN, as all major US media outlets, has its good and bad. Not all at CNN are biased,
nor ignorant of the facts when parachuting into the Middle-East. But when it all
adds up and when CNN continues reporting from closed IDF military zones - jeopardizing
the lives of our soldiers and anti-terror operations - something has to give.
Over and over again we hear about Israelis who have "died from an explosion"
when they were actually murdered in cold blood in a terrorist bombing attack.
We recently heard about "settlers who died in an exchange of fire" when
in reality an Islamic terrorist broke into a private home and shot children to
death as they were sitting in their living room watching TV!
And then we have
the family - the Israeli woman who lost both her mother and child in a terrorist
attack at a shopping center in Petach Tikva, but CNN rather than focusing on the
victim's suffering, interviewed and aired the terror bomber's mother.
it was not CNN's editorial bias which caused the media giant to panic in the last
Rather it was money and market share.
Turner, the founder and former chairman of CNN, was quoted in London last week
equating Israel's defensive operations against terrorists - against Hamas, Islamic
Jihad, Fatah and Hezbollah - as "terrorism."
the Israelis and the Palestinians both terrorising each other?" says Turner,
who is vice-chairman of AOL Time Warner, which owns CNN, in an exclusive interview
with the Guardian. |
Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers, that's all they have. The
Israelis ... they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world.
The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make a case
that both sides are involved in terrorism."
Ted Turner, CNN Founder, Vice-Chairman of AOL Time Warner
created outrage among the Israeli public and prompted Israel's cable and satellite
companies to offer Fox News in addition to CNN. In reality - replacing CNN with
CNN's chief news executive Eason Jordan immediately consulted with his
Israeli PR firm - Eurocommunications - and flew into Israel a week ago. Immediately,
as part of a damage control exercise, he had star anchor and veteran Israeli reporter
Wolf Blitzer coordinate a new CNN series called: Israeli Victims of Terror.
Blitzer was also responsible for anchoring the CNN show - International Correspondents
- where again Eason Jordan sincerely apologized for any errors that CNN had made
in it's coverage from Israel.
If CNN was to lose the Israeli market, one
of the hottest places to file stories from, and lose the world Jewish community
- it would adversely affect their networks "carriage" or sales worldwide.
In order to create a series on terrorism's affect on Israelis, CNN had to fly
in a production team from London.
These people know very little about Israel,
terrorism and Middle-East politics but they do know how to produce. One Israeli
viewer complained about the transparency, that the show appeared so staged that
it looked like a paid commercial. For CNN to have aired this comment was brave
and illustrated professional journalism. But, for many Israelis, this attempt,
this compensation to set things right, was too little, too late.
it's subliminal, biased messages, had actually encouraged some of the bloodshed
for which Israelis have endured.
Many Israelis believe that a week's worth
of spin will not buy the Israeli public. CNN must prove in the days ahead through
balanced reporting and from coverage of the Israeli terror victims and not
the families of the terror bombers, that they are sincere and objective.
Turner, who once described the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center
and the Pentagon
as being "brave", would most likely have described this Islamic suicide
baby bomber from Hebron as being "brave" fighting Israeli "terrorism".
PR firm should have returned their retainer fee - for almost every thing that
they did for CNN was wrong.
Israel and CNN come from two very different cultures.
Jerusalem is not Atlanta. Israelis are a very proud and direct people who are
loyal to their friends and never forget their enemies. CNN had become a clear
enemy with Turner's anti-Semitic remarks. Eurocommunications did not need to suggest
overkill - a series on Israeli Victims of Terror.
This action only served
to pour more salt onto an open wound. The series was not illustrating the pain
of Israeli terror victims but rather underscored the pain that CNN is now feeling.
All CNN had to do was apologize and get it's editorial system balanced.
addition, for CNN to state that they were not "influenced" by billionaire
Ted Turner, while still using the turner.com e-mail addresses was a joke.
the end - it was not the Israeli Foreign Ministry or Israeli Communications Minister
Rivlin who had forced CNN to become more objective and more sensitive in it's
reports. It was organizations such as the ADL, HonestReporting.com and Camera
which had launched massive e-mail campaigns and had created a strong foundation
for CNN editorial reform.
Even President Bush gave a helping hand this week
by requesting new leadership for the Palestinian people in order to achieve a
lasting peace. A politically correct gesture of asking Yassar Arafat to take a
long vacation - immediately.
But even as CNN was airing it's Israeli Victims
of Terror series and the Bush administration was offering a Palestinian State
without Arafat, CNN's Mathew Chance was still reporting live from Ramallah - a
closed IDF military zone - spitting in the faces of the IDF and the Israeli government
In addition, the CNN Israeli Victims of Terror series had missed perhaps the greatest
victim of terrorism - Israel's bleeding economy.
This issue, where
almost all Israelis are having a dreadful time in just paying for their food bills,
was was not substantially addressed. Israel has experienced a severe drop in foreign
investments, no tourism and unemployment facing 20 percent. If the Israeli economy
is suffering then what is to be with the Palestinian economy which depends on
Israel's commerce? The CNN London production team, which was enjoying drinks and
lavish food at the King David and the Jerusalem David's Citadel hotels, was tipped
off to cover this economic crisis - a direct effect of the terror attacks. These
foreign professionals responded politely by stating that: "we know what to
CNN aired the CEO of NICE Systems basically saying that
all was OK - sure he was going to say that his company has not been hurt (as
AMDOCS lays off hundreds this week) because he didn't want his investors and
shareholders to jump ship.
In the end - it was not the good intentions and professionalism of CNN's CEO Walter
Issacson which had CNN reverse course. Nor Eason Jordan, who was rejected this
week for meetings with Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Peres.
was Ted Turner, through his thoughtless and anti-Semitic remarks which may have
inadvertently recreated a CNN for which the world public may now depend upon for
accurate, objective and fair news coverage coming out of the Middle-East.
13.........It's been one month since this strategic international media consultant
has been working in the IDF.
During this time period, I have been an intimate
witness as to who and what is working in Israeli governmental public relations
/ public affairs. There is good news and bad.
Israel Defense Forces has a golden feature that no other branch of the
government has - it's called reserve service. And in reserve service they take
the best. What enhances this feature even more so is the true quality of the career
army people that you work with. No political agenda - just pure professionalism
in protecting Israel's civilian population.
And they get the work done - but
with limits. The IDF cannot discuss politics - this is passed to the MFA and this
is where the meltdown continues. Again, I reiterate that the MFA is a large institution
with some of the most professional people to be found there. Israel's Ambassador
to Ireland, Mark Sofer is a shining example. When asked by the BBC two
days ago: "will Israel now kill the gunmen it released from Bethlehem in
Europe?" without taking the slightest pause, Mark responded: "No - we
look forward to seeing them in court where they would be judged for their terror
activities". How did Mark get to the BBC, by another hard working professional
star in the PMO - David Baker, who has been responsible for booking some
of our best spokespeople on global networks.
sadly Mark Sofer is going back to his post in Ireland and the MFA is continuing
to make fatal mistakes - although in being fair to their PR hasbara department
- they are doing their best with what they have from a limited budget and professional
manpower perspective. But again - much too little, much too late.
The State of Israel National Media Center which opened up under the responsibility
of the MFA in Jerusalem as a result of "Operation Defensive Shield"
has now closed - but the media war continues with more journalists in Israel than
ever before. Where was the logic to close this center? Yes - officially "Operation
Defensive Shield" came to an end - but did it come to a close in reality?
The terror hostage taking in the Church of Navity in Bethlehem became
the world's number one story and the State of Israel had no media center. THE
ONLY GOOD NEWS that we really had - that is that the IDF was rescuing innocent
hostages in a Christian church that was taken over by terrorists. And the
end result - not one drop of blood was spilled as the hostages were released!
And no media center to get out the message............
even when the National Media Center was functioning, on one Friday morning there
had been an Arab terror suicide attack in Jerusalem which claimed several lives.
It was suggested to the MFA to hold a news conference that evening with Jerusalem's
Mayor - Ehud Olmert - to discuss this attack and the status of the terror victims.
Keep the focus on Israel's suffering - not Jenin.
What was the response from
the MFA's hasbara department? "Overkill".
one word summed up the professionalism of the MFA's hasbara department: "overkill".
Not keeping the focus of public relations crisis management communications
on the true suffering of the Israeli public was a crime.
Activity Transcends to Political Policy - The Boycotts Begin
a result of Israel's devastating public relations mismanagement, foreign and commercial
policy with regards to Israel is being severely damaged. Many governments and
companies in Europe and in the States are now threatening or implementing boycotts.
The Israeli economy is soaked in blood - it's never been worse. Unemployment and
inflation continue to skyrocket.
There is now only one solution - the
Prime Minister's Office must bravely coordinate an emergency international public
relations response team. I use the word "bravely" because Ariel
Sharon and the MFA Minister Shimon Peres have two separate agendas. It is time
for these agendas to be placed aside for the survival of Israel.
having met with one of Israel's largest corporate giants yesterday - they also
see the writing on the wall - sanctions and boycotts as a result of unprofessional
international public relations on the government's side. They are now discussing
the coordination of a private, professional international PR campaign which will
protect their industry's market share. This is an excellent idea - let's pray
that this idea becomes reality. If we continue to rely on the existing fragmented
and destructive PR of the MFA, office lights throughout the country will continue
to be turned off.
need the Prime Minister to act today - and this is where you can really assist
Israel's PR effort.
Write to the Prime
Minister - demand that an Emergency Crisis Communications Ministry
is immediately established which is composed of international PR professionals
who are based in Israel. These PR professionals would be bicultural, have over
10 years of international public relations / journalism experience and are more
than familiar with both world and Israeli maps.
Sharon and Peres must now
work as one entity regarding Israel's image - we are at war - during war you swallow
your pride in order to survive. There is no other choice.
Israel recovers from the Passover Massacre and takes action to defend
herself from a steady and barbaric stream of bloody terror attacks, slowly Israel's
governmental PR machine is starting to shape up.
MFA has established a 24x7 media center in Jerusalem, the Ministry is using speakers
whose English is more fluent and Government Press Office Director Danny Seaman
is assisting in the center's coordination. In addition, we see a shining light
coming out of North America as articulate and media savvy Alon Pinkas,
Ambassador and Israel Consul General in New York makes more appearances on domestic
and international television.
But we still ask - where are the native
born Anglo-Saxons - not bankers, VC's, diamond dealers or hotel managers,
but the seasoned international media public affairs professionals and or journalists
who are living and working in Israel who should be working with the foreign journalists
who are either based or visiting in Israel?
It is difficult to understand
English, French or Spanish through a thick Israeli accent.
And not to understand
the mentality of the reporter - their deadlines and other needs is a fatal mistake.
Does the Israeli MFA have one
bi-cultural PR professional who has worked in an international PR firm in the
US or Europe?
An Israeli-Anglo PR professional that has also worked as a
journalist and understands the needs of foreign correspondents? No!
also ask, why are there only a handful of computers in the media center?
are the telephones?
Why is there no food for the visiting journalists?
These conditions do not make for a "welcoming" environment for those
reporters and photographers who have traveled thousands of miles to cover Israel's
war on terrorism!
war is far from over. The United Nations Security Council today voted against
Israel, requesting Israeli forces to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza, as
the IDF searches for terrorists and their weapons. Israeli's representative at
the United Nations has labeled this vote as "giving a prize to the Palestinian
the MFA has experienced international media professionals who can speak their
native French to the French media, Spanish to the Spanish media and English to
the English media - then and only then with honest facts will Israel win the hearts
and minds of international public opinion.
4.....Just when you think that you have seen it all, something comes hurdling
towards you like a freight train. Minutes ago the Israel News Agency
received a news release from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
put the same fatal media management errors.
Pearl, who literally gave his life for journalism, is to be honored in Jerusalem.
But the Israeli PR news release which was sent out to dozens of the world's most
respected and prestigious news organizations announcing the ceremony would have
made Danny smile. Smile, because he knew Israel and Israeli culture. Smile, because
he would have said: "at least they spelled my name correctly." Below
is a copy of the Israeli government PR news release:
Forum for Combating antisemitism
tuesday 15:00 at the Western Wall
press is invited to cover a special prayer for the memory of the 'Wall Street
Journal' journalist, Daniel Pearl.
ceremony will be conducted by:
Deputy Forign Minister, Rabbi Michael Melchior
Minister of Religion, Rabbi Asher Ohana &
The KOTEL Rabbi, Rabbi
of the Pearl family in Israel will attend as long as representatives of the American
DFM Media Advisor
with grammatical and spelling mistakes, illustrating the total lack of international
public relations professionalism coming out of the MFA. Okay - someone gave a
job to someone's friend, a cousin or political ally. But at least give the
job to someone who is a native Anglo or fluent in English!
We deleted the spokesperson's name to avoid further embarrassment. But the embarrassment
caused by this and dozens of other news releases disseminated daily by government
bodies in Israel sticks. It makes those of us who do professionally practice international
PR in Israel into nothing more than a joke.
We do thank the Israel
Government Press Office for rewriting the above news release and disseminating
it with the highest standards of media professionalism.
friend of mine from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently wrote: "the
situation is not so grim".
I responded that the word "grim"
would be a luxury.
For Dan Pearl's ceremony tomorrow - we all trust that the
Israeli PR material handed out to both the media and to the public will at the
very least have his name spelled correctly!
the INA is simply stating and restating and putting on notice to anyone
practicing PR in any government body in Israel is: please think twice before you
communicate verbally or non-verbally to the international media - because if you
believe that you can continue to act in an unprofessional manner which damages
the image of this beautiful country - you are very wrong!
20.......Incredible. Truly unbelievable.
The Israeli government PR machine
just keeps repeating mistake after fatal mistake.
It's 18:05 - Ra'anan
Gissin of the Prime Minster's office is interviewed by CNN. He articulates
Israel's latest defensive actions in the most professional manner - both in substance
But the problem is - there is only one Ra'anan Gissin and one Dore
We are also lucky to observe occasional and brilliant responses
articulated by Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Zalman Shoval, Ehud Olmert
and Binyamin Netanyahu - who should be named Minister of Information for
As we change cable channels and land on the BBC, which recently
won HonestReporting.com's award for the most biased news coverage out of the Middle-East,
they are actually attempting to be objective. But it is now the Israeli Government
public relations machine at the MFA which continues to dig our graves!
The BBC anchor is now hosting the PA's Saeb Erekat and Israel's Minister
for Tourism Rabbi Benyamin Elon.
Elon admits on BBC television that
his English is not as good as Erekat's English. Elon is an intelligent and well
meaning man but what is he doing on the BBC? Now that the entire world knows through
Elon's announcement that his English is not as good as the Palestinians - are
we to feel sorry for him?
Erekat, now like a shark smelling blood and encouraged
by Elon's admitted weakness, begins to attack and disrupt.
peace with Israel - why are you attacking us?" Erekat keeps stating. Elon
tries desperately to explain that the language for which Arafat speaks and incites
war when addressing his people in Arabic is different when speaking "peace"
in English. Elon's public relations soundbyte is lost. The anchor has her schedule,
she must move on.
we ask - where - where are the Israeli PR and media professionals
who were born in the States, the UK, South Africa?
Why are they not being
used to articulate Israel's position on English news networks?
the world see through 30 second elevator pitches that Israel is wrong in attacking
"innocent" Palestinians who use their children as human shields and
their youth as barbaric, suicide terror bombers.
we - Israel - realize that we lack world political support for our defensive actions
- just look at Israel's Ministry for Foreign Affairs hasabra department. They
are the one's who continue to insist on having native Israeli's speak broken English
on the BBC! Then they cry that they can't do more, using budget as an excuse.
Please do not misinterpret our comments - we have the greatest respect for
many departments and people at the MFA - but the hasbara department is nothing
less than "The Weakest Link". Israeli newspapers Yediot, Ma'ariv,
Haertz and the Jerusalem Post have all reported over and over again
about such PR nightmares i.e. - when the US started to attack the Taliban - the
hasbara department at the MFA was on "vacation"!
reported that an exchange of scathing accusations took place between the
Foreign Ministry and the IDF over responsibility for the international media's
lack of interest in the Karine A. |
in the IDF Spokesperson's office stated that the Foreign Ministry's hasabra department
doesn't know how to take a military operation and give it political leverage,
and they have been failing to do so throughout the recent period.
had enough time and we supplied them with enough material and footage of the operation.
All they had to do was to take the footage and give it to the news agencies, send
their people with the suits and ties to give diplomatic momentum to this successful
the problem is not the IDF, but rather those in the Foreign Ministry.
The army can't
do their job as well. Instead of blaming us, they should just get to work."
Privatize Israel's Public Relations Efforts
By Greer Fay Cashman
The Jerusalem Post
JERUSALEM (January 7) - Lenny Ben-David, a former deputy chief of mission at the
Israel embassy in Washington and Israel director of America-Israel Public Affairs
Committee, has called for the privatization of Israel's information and public
relations (hasbara) efforts.
in Jerusalem to a solidarity mission of the Israel Bonds Rabbinical Conference
yesterday, Ben-David said that bureaucratic and political problems hinder Israel
from responding properly to anti-Israel media reports.
problems, he said, are holding up the appointment of a new, articulate ambassador
get around the bureaucratic and political obstacles, Ben-David proposed "a
broad privatization of hasbara."
There are many Anglo-Saxon's in Israel, let alone Jerusalem where the foreign
media is based that can be tapped to speak for the State of Israel. They work
at the Jerusalem Post, the Jerusalem Report, Israel English TV
and Radio news.
Why are they not being activated by the Ministry for
English Threatens Israel's Public-Relations Effort
By Gil Hoffman
The Jerusalem Post
JERUSALEM (August 2) - The Foreign Ministry admitted yesterday that it had a difficult
time explaining Tuesday's IDF helicopter strike on the Hamas headquarters in Nablus
that killed six Hamas members and two Palestinian children, but the spokesman
for the coordinator of government activities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip
had it even tougher.
department couldn't spell the name of the city in which the attack took place
or complete a sentence in English.
press release sent to foreign media outlets around the world was headlined: "The
Palestinian authority is increasing in significant way the incitement actions.
government policy, the document, which was sent on official Defense Ministry stationery,
referred to Israel's practice of targeting Palestinian terrorists using the taboo
Palestinian establishment media is devoting her main broadcasting from the morning
to intensive dealing to the assassination in Nabulas and increasing in significant
way the dosage and the sort of the incitement broadcasting, the media also started
to broadcast national songs in very high frequency, [sic]" the first sentence
Lastly - the Director
of Israel's Government Press Office - Danny Seaman - why is this articulate,
bilingual not being asked to speak, why is this professional asset being ignored
by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs?
much longer will the Ministry for Foreign Affairs hasbara department in Jerusalem
continue with amatuerish rather than professional, local media management efforts?
2002.....The head of Israel's Foreign Ministry's public affairs division, recently
told the international conference of Jewish Ministers and Parliamentarians at
a Hotel in Jerusalem that today's public relations is dominated by media events,
not finely honed arguments. "When you see us on television, that is very
nice. But no one remembers our arguments," he said.
The INA strongly
disagrees with this argument.
People remember "soundbytes". READ MY LIPS was said once by President
George Bush (senior) and never forgotten. The MFA still does not get it.
When Bibi Netanyahu speaks, we remember and applaud. When the MFA speaks, we remember
how uneasy, how unprepared and how awkward most of their speakers look!
lack native English speakers.
They lack professional media coaching.
They lack bi-cultural Israeli PR hasbara professionals who are working just miles
from the MFA. But perhaps the greatest negative is not their fault.
part of a fragmented governmental public relations system which does not speak
with one voice.
The recent capture of a PA terror ship from Iran with it's
50 tons of deadly cargo was never clearly illustrated to the foreign media in
Israel. A lost opportunity.
is remembered, the MFA said, are images, and the Palestinians have proven masters
at creating images."
Well good morning MFA!
The INA and
several non-profit organizations have been making pro-Israel, hasbara images -
reflections of the truth - available to both the public and media for over a year.
The public can now even purchase video tape documentaries should they have any
doubt as to who the good guys and bad guys are (www.imp.co.il)
MFA has yet to implement an effective, 24 / 7 crisis media public relations response
team in Jerusalem which employs native English speakers.
is Danny Seaman - Director of the Government Press Office - a native English speaker,
not being used?
exists an arrogance of power at some levels of the MFA, particularly in the Hasbara
department, which still appears to override national and global Jewish interests.
An arrogance which says "we are OK - you are not".
which hurts the efforts of many of the PR professionals in the Prime Minister's
Office. An arrogance which transcends soundbytes and images.
The MFA must admit that it is "limited" in the hasbara section - not
make further excuses and move forward working with both Israeli and global PR
professionals. They must swallow their egos and pride and cooperate with other
Ministries, working as a team - as the IDF does - as we all must.
In a war against our enemies who seek to physically destroy us - their
is no second place.
We must act as a team, as one house or fall. And we will
2001......Since the below report was written, Israel's Ministry for Foreign Affairs
has taken action to retain local international PR professionals. We applaud the
FM for this action. The FM has also been criticized by the Israeli media for not
responding quick enough to fast breaking news. They have also responded to this
observation by having their own people serve as spokesmen 24/7.
Now the FM needs to retain local, professional crisis public relations consultants
to assist them with media coaching so that their
appearance on CNN, Sky News, BBC and other international media outlets appears
professional and confident.
PR MACHINE (or lack of one) HURTING COUNTRY'S IMAGE
BI-CULTURAL ISRAELI MEDIA PROS
2......A calamity of tragic PR errors continues within Israeli government institutions.
The latest folly came from the "Spokesman" of the Office of Coordinator
of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. This Israeli department could
not even spell the name of the city in which a recent IDF attack took place, nor
was the "Spokesman" able to complete a full sentence in English.
headline of a news release which was disseminated to the foreign media from the
above office read: "The Palestinian authority is increasing in significant
way the incitement actions. [sic]". In addition, contradicting government
policy, the document, which was sent on official Defense Ministry stationery,
referred to Israel's practice of targeting Palestinian terrorists using the taboo
word "assassination." The first sentence of the news release read: "The
Palestinian establishment media is devoting her main broadcasting from the morning
to intensive dealing to the assassination in Nabulas and increasing in significant
way the dosage and the sort of the incitement broadcasting, the media also started
to broadcast national songs in very high frequency, [sic]"
are very, very few real public relations hasbara professionals working in the
Israeli government today. Perhaps less than a handful. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's
foreign press spokesman, Ra'anan Gissin is one of those rare professional and
talented PR people serving in the government - but Mr. Gissin cannot be everywhere.
Much of the remainder of those who hold any kind of authority within government
regarding Israel's image compensate for their lack of professional knowledge and
experience with an attitude of arrogance. If one has any doubt regarding their
credentials just ask which international PR firms they have worked for, the clients
they were responsible for handling and which newspapers they had started out in
as reporters or editors. Do they understand how the media works, having been a
48 hours ago, the INA pointed out that the Israel Ministry of Foreign
Affairs had appointed Rubenstein Associates in New York to handle Israel's image
while ignoring local, professional PR talent which has extensive international
We questioned: How can a PR firm totally unfamiliar with Israel
and the region operating from 6,000 miles away - under crisis conditions - control
the foreign media based in Israel?
INA admits that handling PR for the government can be a gruesome job at
times. Israel has many Ministries with many egos with different and varying political
preferences. But this is no time for excuses - when words in the media can effect
critical action on the ground.
It is time that professionals Nachman Shai,
head of Israel's Broadcasting Authority, Ra'anan Gissin - Prime Minister's
Office and Danny Seaman - Director of the GPO, put Israel's PR house in
order. Their first task - hire or retain Israeli media professionals who
are bicultural. Professionals who understand the media, understand the
region, understand the editorial needs of both the domestic and foreign media
- and can spell the names of Israel's and the region's cities properly!
they can't do it - no one can!