A change has come to Israeli politics with the rise of politicians who have been influenced by America, and who have a very clear understanding of how public relations works and the importance of “Branding Israel.”
As CEO of a public relations firm, I find their success impressive and striking, yet the foreign media have ignored this angle of Israeli politics, as it doesn’t reflect the liberal agenda on Israel that so many of them wish to perpetuate.
With Israeli elections less than two months away, there remains no candidate who presents any real threat to Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu. In the background, however, are major candidates who are young, and are products of the “Facebook generation.” Their influence is very different to what we have seen from younger candidates in previous Israeli elections.
I am speaking of Danny Danon and Naftali Bennett who both speak “American,” and have strong positions on Israeli security, not clouded by self depreciating liberal Jewish ideas. If they were liberals one could expect fawning editorials about them in American media outlets. But, as they aren’t liberals, I’ll have to do the fawning:
40-year old Israeli Naftali Bennett was born to American parents and was recently elected Chairman of the Jewish Home party (Ha-Bayit Ha-Yehudi). Current polls indicate that his party will emerge post election as the 3rd largest political party in Israel.
Bennett served in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit of the IDF, and at the age of 27 founded a company which he sold 6 years later for $145 Million. He lived in New York City for a few years building the company, until he returned to Israel where he fought in the Second Lebanon War and then served as Netanyahu’s Chief of Staff.
Bennett is independently wealthy, self-made and driven strictly by Zionism. As I wrote back in August 2011:
“Bennett is also among the rare Zionists who care about the PR brand of Israel – he started “Israel Sheli” (My Israel), a network of pro-Israel activists committed to spreading Zionism online. It is dedicated to digital media work – from Wikipedia to Twitter to Facebook – to present a balanced view online of Israel and Israeli PR.” Bennett asks: “What does the world want from us; what do the Arab nations want from this small Jewish State?”
Naftali Bennett is going places and is well on his way to a senior cabinet position.
Inside Netanyahu’s Likud Party, a Tea Party type-revolution has taken place where Young Turks have overcome older party hacks, and 41-year old Danny Danon undoubtedly is a leader of the “New Likud.” Danon is currently Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and head of World Likud, he is listed at number 9 on the joint Likud/Yisrael Beitenu list and is a likely Cabinet Member in the next Netanyahu government. He lived in America for a number of years while completing his Masters degree and visits the country regularly. He often appears in the media, has already written his first book, and regularly hosts visiting politicians to explain to them the true situation on the ground in Israel.
While leaders like Danon and Bennett aren’t what the liberal media would like to see in Israel, the people of Israel are speaking -and these two will undoubtedly dominate the political scene in Israel for many years to come. These two young leaders epitomize the best of the young political leadership of Israel.
Ronn Torossian is an entrepreneur, author and philanthropist.