Monday, July 14, 2014

Israel PR - We Need Your Help!

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Jerusalem ... July 2014 --- I have worked in Jewish PR and public affairs since the 1980's. Have worked directly for and with the Israeli government since the 1990's. There's very little that I have not seen.

Today, Israel is engaged in defending herself once again from Islamic Jihad.
It's a war of bullets and words.
The war of words define public opinion and Israel can do much better.

Many will say that Israel's PR is weak, ineffective and just plain bad.
I totally disagree.

This may have been the case before Internet arrived.
Because of this cheap and inexpensive medium - Israel is making progress, but we are not quite there.

The Israeli government has very little money for PR.
Our money goes first to aircraft fuel, Iron Dome and boots for our soldiers.

What little money we do have is being used as well as it can be.
Although severely understaffed, the Prime Minister's Office is functioning well under Mark Regev.
But we need at least two more Mark Regev's there.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a very limited budget, but is doing truly wonderful things with the Internet.
They are also able to enlist the support of volunteer organizations - and this is where they truly shine.

Such non-profits as the Israel Project, StandWithUs, CAMERA, MEMRI and HonestReporting are getting the messages out.

We must also take our hats off to Ambassador Ron Dermer, who is doing an outstanding job. And to UN Ambassador Ron Prosor who is doing all he can with the limited resources he has.

Israeli basketball legend Tal Brody, serving as a good will ambassador, is burning up his keyboard.
And Consul General of Israel, Ido Aharoni is hitting both local and national TV / radio in the US.

And then we have the Israel Defense Forces.
Truly a great, potent job they are doing online.
Thank you Avital Leibovich for creating the infrastructure and Peter Lerner for using it so well!
But they can only go so far and do so much being a governmental organization.

This morning I watched CNN with pride as they took on a Palestinian leader in the US.
CNN was armed with our soundbytes: "Israel uses missile defense systems to defend it's civilians, Hamas uses civilians to defend their missiles."

And then we have some of the Israeli media such as The Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel.
They sparkle. Under the leadership of Steve Lindy and David Horovitz, our messages do get out.
Then we have Haaretz.  No really quite sure which nation they represent. Not quite sure they know either.

And many thanks to William Daroff of the North American Jewish Federations.
I don't think Daroff sleeps as my Facebook and Twitter feed has more of him than Victoria Secrets sales!

We need your help.
We need your help to reach the global Christian and Muslim populations.
We are almost on mark in reaching our Christian brothers, but as for the Muslims - our PR is a complete failure.

The majority of Muslims around the world are brainwashed against Israel and the Jews. But that does not mean they do not want peace. And there are many moderate Muslims out there who will help us create a bridge.

Israel is not at war with Islam. We are not at war with the Muslims.
We are at war with Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

These are political groups, not religions.
When you smear a Muslim, you are no different than those who smeared Jews before and during the Holocaust.

Don't do it!

Target Hamas and Islamic Jihad - not all Muslims.
If you continue to target all Muslims we risk alienating ourselves from the moderates, really good people who ask me sincerely what is going on. As long as we can communicate and get the facts out to Muslims, it reduces moderates joining extreme, terrorists groups.

The most important thing you can do is engage.
This morning one Muslim from Indonesia joined one of my many Facebook groups.
He was one of dozens who tried to enter the room and he got past my firewall.
But that worked out OK.

His opening comment was: "Fuck Israel, I am Muslim."
My knee jerk reaction was to delete the comment and ban him.
But instead, I thought, this guy is part of the global, brainwashed Muslim crowd.
Try to engage. And I did. He went from blindly attacking Israel to listening to what we have to say.
And that's where we need PR and our public affairs.

Both the media and global journalists need to know that we are not at war with Gaza or "Palestine" - we are at war with Hamas, a political group funded by Iran which many Gazans are now beginning to hate.

I ask you to do three things.

1. When you hear anything biased or inaccurate on your local TV or radio news - call them!
Ask for the news desk and politely correct them.
Tell them Israel is not at war with Palestine (don't even start to discuss that there is no Palestine) but is at war with Hamas, a political, terror group in Gaza. Keep your comment short - no more than ten seconds. They will listen to you and most often change how they present the local news. They don't want to lose market share and advertisers.

2. Email your local TV and newspaper's news desk the Red Alert app stating that this will place them in the know regarding real time violence between Israel and Hamas.

3. ENGAGE Muslims online.

Take our speaking points from the MFA and the IDF and place them on Christian, Arab and UN Facebook pages. Engage beyond the converted. 

When Muslims attack, ask them why?
Engage them and tell them the truth that Israel wants peace. Educate them.
Use examples of Israeli Muslim Arabs who support democracy and Israel.

Lastly, don't give up.
You, our volunteers, are the ones who will make the ultimate impact.
You, the volunteer, is the one who will defend my children and the children of all Jews in a wonderful, magical place called Israel. 

And if you do your job successfully, you will be defending Jews beyond the borders of Israel.