A PR War That’s Tough to Win
July 30, 2014
July 30, 2014
[Photo: Two of the soldiers, killed: Gilad Yacoby, second from the right, and Oz Mendelovitch, third from the left, were trained by the women kneeling (Yarden Fried, third from the left)]
I just got a sobering and heart wrenching email from my sister-in-law’s sister in Israel. It just drives home the bind that Israel is constantly placed in from a public relations perspective. With one daughter who recently finished her service, training the very Golani tank soldiers who were killed (see the photo above) and another son about to go into the army, the fear and anxiety and grief are palpable and real.
But reading most of the coverage and seeing the video, it raises the question: How do you possibly win the PR war when the casualty numbers are so skewed? Hundreds of Palestinians, many children, versus tens of Israelis?
I read a column recently in the Wall Street Journal by Thane Rosenbaum, titled “Hamas’s Civilian Death Strategy”. It should be required reading for any journalist covering the war to at least begin to understand what Hamas intends.
As Rosenbaum says – “With the conflict about to enter the third week, winning the PR war is the most Hamas can hope to achieve.”
“It’s hard for Israel to counter when hospitals are hit and little children are seen running and dying. As Rosenbaum says: “Civilian casualties will continue to mount. The evolving story will focus on the collateral damage of Palestinian lives. Israel's moral dilemma will receive little attention. Each time the ledgers of relative loss are reported, world public opinion will turn against the Jewish state and box Israel into an even tighter corner of the Middle East.”
To say the sides are asymmetrical is to state the obvious. But at least Israel made it clear early on that its goal was to eliminate the tunnels, built of concrete and metal and quite sophisticated and long, that take terrorists from Gaza into Israel for their stated aim of death and destruction. Thus far 34 tunnels have been destroyed. But the fighting and carnage continue.
Would public opinion be different if Israel’s “Iron Dome” didn’t protect the cities and citizens of Israel from the hundreds of daily rockets that Hamas launches? Likely yes, but gratefully the Iron Dome has been successful.
The situation in Gaza is not sustainable for its residents, but what did they think would happen when they elected Hamas as their government? Hamas has left Israel little choice and the irony is that has been their intent all along.