Public Relations and the Art of War

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In 2009, Fenton Communications, a New York City–based PR firm, signed two contracts with the Arab state of Qatar to develop an 18-month campaign to essentially delegitimize Israel by orchestrating an international anti-Israel campaign aimed at breaking the blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel doesn’t use PR agencies in the United States. It doesn’t even pay for its diplomatic employees to use cell phones after hours or on weekends because of archaic and bureaucratic rules—a necessity in today’s 24/7 media world.

Israel’s PR does a poor job of framing the debate—its spokespeople are ineffective and have a poor grasp of the English language. (Israel regularly sends diplomats to countries where the diplomat doesn’t speak the native language.) There is a lot that can be done to fight and influence. It’s a question of shaping concepts and of speaking in terms and metaphors that the world understands.

Look at what happens when private investors legally buy property in eastern Jerusalem and legally build homes for Jews. An Internet search reveals that the media see such construction as evidence of Jewish “occupation” and a primary reason why there will never be peace in the Middle East. Even an American named Irving Moskowitz is condemned for buying land legally in Jerusalem – Is that not racist and Anti-Semitism?

Why not create messaging about how a Jewish person can legally build a home and live anywhere in the world—except Israel? A Jew can buy and build in Harlem or East Los Angeles, Paris, or Moscow, but not in Jerusalem. They can buy real estate and coexist elsewhere—why not there? That is the message they should be sending.

A justified cause is not enough to be right these days, either in politics or in business. Anyway, being right does not help you frame the debate nor does it keep you from being constantly on the defense. It’s not enough to simply convey a message—you need people to listen. Preparation for war includes a PR battle plan because PR is a crucial element of any war today.

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  • Nakba1948

    "Why is Israeli PR so ineffective?" Hmm…could it be because the hasbara coming out of "Israel" is transparently dishonest and hypocritical, and the rest of the world knows it? Nah, that'd be too obvious… Now, let the tiresome, unsubstantiated accusations of anti-Semitism and ridiculous Islamophobic non sequiturs roll!

    • Lan Astaslem

      stay in your islamic cesspool naki – and take a big hot steaming dump in your koran!

      • Galveston

        hey nakba, even russia and china are tuning their backs on the muslims and forging alliances with Israel because they too have seen what problems muslims bring to their nations. Wherever muslims go, trouble follows. I'm not an islamophobe. I don't fear muslims. I am onto them – just like the Israelis have been onto them for decades. Too bad the arabs haven't learned their lesson.

    • Snorbak

      Well, arnt you just a glowing beacon of rational thought.
      Once again, all we hear from you is an emotive rant devoid of any substantive or factual support to your argument.
      The humiliation you must feel knowing that the "pathetic Zionists", as you have previously referred to Israel, are so superior to the combined Arab/ Muslim world by any measure you may apply.
      Enjoy wallowing in your self pity

      • Looking4Sanity

        He's just killing time waiting for the next "Catastrophe". The good news is, I don't think he's got long to wait!

    • http://frontpage richard sherman

      The coward Mohammad had 900 unarmed Jews decapitated at Quarazah. Cowards stick together!

      • Looking4Sanity

        That's the kind of thing you do when you're possessed of Satan. Maybe we shouldn't be too hard on the old camel jockey? Nah.

    • Looking4Sanity

      I think your stupidity speaks for itself…and it speaks volumes!

    • Ghostwriter

      You know,Nakba1948,your constant anti-semitism is getting old real fast. Why don't you go back to the pit where you were spawned from?

    • gray man

      I don't think you are an anti-semite. I think you are a stupid scumbag.

    • Jamilu

      It is because,Israel does not want PR to be practiced well in her territory.

  • Joey Glicks

    Thank you ronn torossian for speaking words of truth. Its plain old fashioned anti-semitism.

  • crackerjack

    Israeli PR is highly effective and exemplary.

    Which nation on earth could uphold an aggresive, expansive occupation regieme for 5 decades and still have its leaders recieve a standing ovation welcome in US Congress and Senate?

    Which nation on eartn could produce and stockpile nuclear arms outside any international convention and still lead a international campainge against nations it suspects of acting likewise.

    When it comes to political PR, Israel is state of the art.

    • artcohn

      Israel is not an aggresive, expansive occupation regiem. The weakness of Israel's Habara is that you and too many others think that is so.

    • Robert2007

      Israel is the size of New Jersey. Some aggresive, expansive occupation regime you got there, cracker.

    • Looking4Sanity

      I'd like to see you PROVE that Israel has nukes! Have they ever used one? There's only one way to find out for sure. Go ahead and poke that bear and see what happens. That's one show I'd LOVE to watch!

  • Bert

    When it comes to Israel and Jewish experience there is a spiritual dimension that is too often overlooked or ignored.
    The dismal reality is that the Israeli leadership is largely corrupt and secular with too little regard for the bible.
    The warnings in the bible about Jerusalem and not dividing the land are ignored. What the psalmist warned about is coming true. The Netanyahu government is more concerned with what Omama thinks rather than what G-d says.
    Psalm 137:6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
    Could this ancient warning be the real cause that Israel lacks spiritual conviction and can only stutter in the face of evil?

    • Looking4Sanity

      That's a thought provoking observation, Bert. Thanks!

  • EthanP

    Israel is "incoveniant". Arab oil money has bought most of the media bribes the corrupt rulers of the world. Have you noticed that the more despotic the nation, the more anti Zionist/anti semitic they are. And let us not forget good ol Christian/Islamic anti semitism. Russia and China are starting to wake up. Primarily it is a recognition of the internal Muslim threat both share. The west is too cowardly to recognize this threat.
    The non oil GDP of the entire Arab World is less than Israel. Israel is a leader in scientific and medical research.
    If the Arab nations disappeared tommorow, would the world be a poorer place? What about Israel, which has just developed a new, safe means of treating breast tumors?

  • dave

    The world is impervious to any pro Israel or anti Islam debate. It doesn't matter what is said, people have made up their mind on the issue and can't seem to change. It has alot to do with the business between the west and Arab states, we sell them arms, they sell us oil and both parties agree to demonise Israel as it takes the heat off of their greed. The fact that arabs never complain that their leaders have literally all the wealth while they live in poverty, never fails to amaze me, it is easier and safer for them to blame Israel.
    However, the more the rest of the world witnesses the reality that Islam is at war with everyone and everything, in particular the sunni/shia inner war, the existence of Israel becomes completely irrelevant. Islam is addicted to violence and always will be. If Israel and Jews didn't exist it would make no difference and this is the message that is slowly getting through and needs to be repeated.

    • Looking4Sanity

      I have no desire to change. I'm pro Israel and anti Islam and that is something that will never change…even on pain of death.

      (a Protestant Christian)

  • mrbean

    Our own U.S. State Department has been and continues promoting an anti-Israel propaganda campaign. The extent of the campaign and the misinformation raises serious concern that it is becoming openly anti-semetic. Until now. On Thursday May 19, 2011, President Obama, a clandestine Muslim, made plain his support for Arab protesters, irrespective of their political views about the United States. From al quaeda to Hamas, from Hezbollah to the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama is rooting for them all, as the Arab Spring moves towards a glorious Arab summer. Contempt for Israel dripped through his sanctimonious sermon. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are now completely at one in their pro-Arab, anti-Jewish sentiments.

  • bkopicz

    Thanks Ronn for bring a very important issue to light. Israel’s extremely poor PR has ramifications not on which laundry detergent will be used but on the actual survival of the State and its population. I don’t understand why this message is lost on a nation which I’ve always seen as realist. Views which were once thought too anti-Semitic to be said out loud in public are now normal conversation. Lets assume we buy the BS Nikba story, given the size of Israel (go ahead Google a map) the maximum displacement for a Palestinian would be 30 miles!!!. 30 miles is the distance that I commuted to college by way of the NYC subway: Bronx-Manhattan-Brooklyn. The problem has never been about land it’s about the Jews who lives within "their region". This imaginary refugee problem and settlement issue is pure PR that needs to be addressed by PR. The Arab states have used PR effectively and have resulted in the loss of Israeli lives. Nakba1948 and crackerjack have as always shifted the focus with their absurd comments, what is needed is for Israel to remedy the problem and develop an effective PR campaign. As far as the practices of appointing diplomats that do not speak the language, this has to be corrected now.

  • Schlomotion

    This article contains a lot of silly misfacts:

    1) "The simple message that Israel is a tiny, democratic country surrounded by murderous despots doesn’t get through— not to governments, the media, or the public."

    That's not true. Zionists say that all the time. So do the slippery, stealthy ones like Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks.

    2) "the state of Israel should be forcefully communicating sympathetic messages to the world but isn’t."

    Of course it is. That's what Hasbara is. People know what Hasbara is. It's Pro-Israel PR.

    3) "delegitimize Israel by orchestrating an international anti-Israel campaign aimed at breaking the blockade of the Gaza Strip."

    Was the USSR legitimate before the US did the Berlin Airlift? Does delegitimizing a blockade delegitimize the perpetrating country?

    4) "Why not create messaging about how a Jewish person can legally build a home and live anywhere in the world—except Israel?"

    Because it's a lie?

    • nightspore

      Another nice example of slippery misstatements (point 1) and deflecting attention from real arguments through false equivalences (point 4).

      Specifically: "the message doesn't get through" does not contradict "Zionists say that all the time" – the latter is a nonsequitur
      The 2 blockades are taking part under different circumstances; in particular, the blockades had different ends. Also, the Berlin airlift to some degree did delegimatize the USSR.

      Keep it Schlo, you're giving the readers at this site good lessons in political sophistry.

    • Looking4Sanity

      Seriously…what douchebag organization is paying you to come here and troll this site? Is it C.A.I.R. or the Obama Administration?

    • Ghostwriter

      Yet another bit of anti-Jewish nonsense from Schlockmotion. Why doesn't he join Nakba1948 in the vile pit they were both spawned from?

    • augie doggie

      intestine-in-motion, a vile nonentity, is upset that no pays attention to him, upset due to the fact that he is a middle-aged loser with insufficient money to be free from others who tell him what to do, or to influence anyone else to do anything. He is powerless. He obsesses about Jews, having posted literally thousands of screeds relating to Jews and Israel over the past year: literally THOUSANDS.

      Here's a hint, intestine-in-motion: if you spend less time writing about your obsession, perhaps you would be less of a failure in life.

  • Looking4Sanity

    "Why is Israeli PR so ineffective?"

    Because it doesn't HAVE to be! They're so dam ned effective at what REALLY matters that PR is a moot point. And the fact that they have an eternal Covenant with God Almighty doesn't hurt matters either.

    Let the muzzies worry about PR. Flapping their lips and blowing themselves up is what they're good at anyway.

  • patriothere

    After the Second World War, nearly all Arab countries were well-disposed toward the United States, and before the creation of Israel, the U.S. had only friends in the region.

    • Sane

      During the cold war there were many allied with the USSR communists.
      Egypt had Russian tanks.

      Your talking points are challenged by facts.

  • shibumimanagementcanada

    If you want to examine exactly what "The Art of War" would say about this situation, download the only fully researched, annotated and plain-English version of the Sun Tzu classic here: