Israel and the War of Perceptions

I’ve seen a good number of articles praising Israel’s handling of the war of perceptions in the media. In the offline critiques of Israel’s strategy and tactics by information experts there is much less congratulatory language. A close look at the praise reveals a self-licking ice cream cone or a limited understanding of the battlespace.

The following is an interesting assessment, and indictment, of Israel’s foray into the war of persuasion not generally discussed in the mainstream media.

Foreign minister Tzipi Livni, whose poor command of the English language may have been a factor in Israel’s agreeing to UN Security Council Resolution 1701 two and a half years ago, now has a blog. The text is in Hebrew only and most of the posts are videos of interviews with her on various television networks.

At YNet, Esti Applebaum-Polani argues that Israel’s biggest problem with public relations is a lack of fluent English speakers.

Hamas’ professional assistance is manifested through Arab experts who reside in Western countries and are used as commentators on foreign media outlets when needed (interestingly, Israel academic experts who live abroad are often opposed to the Israeli government’s policy.) The campaign is also reinforced by Arab politicians who were educated in the West or lived there for a long time and speak fluent English. In addition, there are the foreign correspondents who view the battle as one pitting David (Hamas) against Goliath (Israel,) because on television it always appears as though one side is strong and the other is weak.

Meanwhile, Palestinian spokespeople who reside in the West and speak fluent English resort to “sweet talk” on global television stations. …

You may have noticed over the past week that the IDF spokesperson’s office has gotten into the Internet – setting up a YouTube account (and then a LiveLeak account) and a blog. All of this is being done by the North American desk – an outfit that may not have existed two and a half years ago (they didn’t contact me if they did exist). …

Read the whole thing here.

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