Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Does Israel Have a PR Problem?

Michael Hirsh of Newsweek argues that Israel lacks a public relations strategy.

There's a kernel of truth in Hirsh's argument and he is hardly the first person I've heard make such a statement. Many years ago, I remember attending a workshop sponsored by The David Project, a pro-Israel advocacy group based here in Boston. The person running the workshop noted that Palestinian PR was infinitely superior to Israeli PR. Using cheese as an example he said the Palestinians would describe stinky cheese as brie while Israel would describe it as stinky cheese.

Hirsh is certainly correct in saying that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was inept in communicating Israel's cause during the war with Hezbollah back in 2006. But Hirsh also criticizes current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his speech at the UN General Assembly last fall. You will recall that Netanyahu produced the construction plans of the Auschwitz concentration camp. You will also recall it was the highlight of a UN General Assembly dominated by the totalitarian triumvirate of Hugo Chavez, Qaddafi and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But Hirsh writes that Netanyahu's eloquence "played into Ahmadinejad's agenda." So what ought Netanyahu have said at the UN? Hirsh does not offer any pearls of wisdom.

Frankly, Hirsh ignores the implaccable hostility towards Israel which has been de rigueur at the UN and other international foraa for decades. Even if Israel did develop stronger public relations in the international arena then surely the same sort of criticism would be leveled at it as has been leveled at the Israel lobby in this country by the Pat Buchanans and the Zbignew Brzezinskis of the world.

No comments: