Why Israel Must Reach Out to the Jewish Media

July 2, 2014 6:38 pm 9 comments

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Jewish Media Summit. Photo: GPO.

Despite star turns from Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres, the loudest spontaneous applause at last week’s Jewish Media Summit in Jerusalem was bestowed on a panelist who accused Israel of ignoring the Jewish media. You could almost hear the organizers’ groan. The dissenting voice was that of fellow British delegate Jenni Frazer, who noted with irritation that Israeli government ministries rarely return calls or answer emails from Jewish newspapers or websites.

When they release a major story for a U.K. audience, it’s invariably found buried in the inside pages of a broadly anti-Israel national newspaper like the Guardian rather than splashed on the front page of other newspapers like the Jewish Chronicle. The prevailing mood among the 150 delegates was that while there is a healthy reciprocal relationship at an embassy level, the higher you go, the lower the expectation of a positive response.

Israel’s top brass simply does not view the Jewish media as useful or relevant. Which begs the question why? Do the State’s ministries feel they would be preaching to the converted? Or is this malaise symptomatic of its feeble wider reputation for public relations?

The truth probably lies somewhere in-between. The Jewish State lost the public relations war long ago, largely because it didn’t even realize it was in a fight. It didn’t know it needed to explain basic moral rights and wrongs to right-thinking people. It didn’t know it had to explain to the U.S. and EU that radical Muslims cannot be allowed to get their hands on nuclear weapons; that Hamas is a tragedy for Jews and Palestinians alike; and that the Middle East’s only democracy must be loudly and proudly supported when its population is targeted by psychopaths.

Israel lost the PR war because its Western allies would rather blame the region’s ills on the only country where liberty, equality, and diversity means a jot – because the alternative reality of an expansionist, aggressive Islamist empire on the rise is too alarming for Barack Obama to accept. If Israel is to blame, there’s no need for the United Nations, United States, and European Union to confront Hamas, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and now the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan summed up this self-delusion in one morally bankrupt soundbite: “How can the whole world be wrong and Israel right?”

No other democracy is so bereft of friends and considered so universally wrong. So rather than reach out, Israel decided to go it alone – dumping many of its steadfast friends among the diaspora as collateral damage. Israel forgot that the most important communication in times of trouble is with each other.

United we stand, divided we fall is the key lesson of Jewish history. There isn’t a European Jewish community that hasn’t felt the malevolence of delegitimization campaigns – of boycotts, divestments, and sanctions against the Israel. Any PR adviser knows that when a company is under attack, it should reassure its stakeholders. So the state is duty bound to present the moral case for its actions at every turn – particularly to those who support it. If the Jewish media is not advocating for the Jewish State, how can Israel expect anyone else to?

To paraphrase cultural commentator Anna Blech: “If the world has even a chance to hear, the Jewish media must shout.” The Jewish Media Summit saw Jewish journalists from Moldova to Mexico listen intently to what Israel’s government ministries had to say. Israel’s government ministries would be well-advised to return the courtesy by rebuilding reciprocal relationships with those who have its best interests at heart. Just a bit of goodwill would be a good start.

The author is editor of the Jewish News and jewishnews.co.uk in London and a columnist for independent.co.uk. He can be e-mailed at richardf@thejngroup.com.

9 Comments

  • I would, also, add that (non-Israeli) Jewish media people should be paying attention and should be reaching out to the Consular Generals to have the Israeli side of the news better represented in print and electronic media reports. I have done that and find that those I have reached out to have been responsive. BTW, Media Central is one of the organizations that does reach out.

  • The article just summed up what I have observed for a long, long time. It is time to make amends. Or is it rather late?

  • Only half the media, maybe a bit more, is controlled by the forces of politically-coerced censorship, among whose top objectives is the destruction of Israel and the rise of radical Islam, on the basis of ‘progressive thought.’ It is, of course, as progressive as Adolph Hitler, but there it is.

    However, the other half of the media is Fascist Fox and its allies. Their position on Israel is laudable. However, to watch or listen to the greediest, most self serving troglodytes on the planet is just as repugnant to anyone with a conscience.

    This is all besides the point, however. The article concerned JEWISH publications, many of which would love to print articles favorable to Israel. It is understandable that Israel’s government views the press of the world with the skeptical opinion it has more than earned. However, news sources such as Algemeiner would be delighted to report news from the Israel government. It is this kind of press whom Israel ignores at its peril.

    There are, of course, many self hating Jews around. However, there is a much larger group of Jews who are progressive in nature, and read, hear, and watch pseudo-progressive opinions, and get nothing to contradict it. The Jewish press is the perfect venue for educating Jews in this manner. Some Jews, of course, are too ideologically addicted to the left wing fascism of politically-coerced censorship to be influenced. However, I firmly believe that most Jews would form more positive opinions IF THESE OPINIONS WERE MADE AVAILABLE.

    The Jewish press can do this. I cannot say how many Jews I know who would not be caught dead watching fascist Fox or listening to hate radio. So, they only get the politically-coerced censorship take on Israel. If Jewish publications, many of which are not right wing in nature, had information to print, these Jews would listen.

    Personally, I am sick of the lack of a free press in this country. A Watergate scandal would never occur with today’s polarized press. But those who rant about the politically-coerced censorship rags do not realize that for most Jews, who believe strongly in ethics and helping their fellow man, the hateful, bigoted, retrogressive positions of fascist Fox et al are totally unacceptable. Therefore, if such media chooses to support Israel, the rest of their agenda is so odious that most Jews cannot abide it, and therefore the ‘side’ which is on Israel’s side is not viewed, read, or listened to by those who would otherwise applaud this position.

    The answer is a Jewish led press which is progressive, does not believe in the reverse Robin Hood philosophy, does not want hobby lobby Christianity forced on the rest of us, to offer genuine liberalism, and include the only side general liberals could agree with in this war of PR, namely that civilized people, who value life, who treat their enemies, who, for the most part, are highly ethical in dealing with enemies who wish to murder them; is vastly superior to an evil cult of death, who send their children off to commit suicide, as long as they take innocent people with them, who brag about using their women, children, elderly, and disabled as human shields, who celebrate everything barbarous from 9-11 to those three poor teenagers. To a REAL liberal, there is no question which side is right.

    So please listen to Richard Ferrer, and bring the correct view to fellow Jews.

  • Reform School

    http://youtu.be/1kYpIzp9co0#aid=P9u83AH0dyA
    The worst danger faced by Israeli government leadership is the threat of contagion by American government leadership. Each nation faces loss of its respective national anthem. Either one could adopt: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nauLgZISozs.

  • Selina Owen

    I agree entirely with the article. Well said.

  • Lucille Kaplan

    As much as I admire the work of Palestine Media Watch, a brilliant reporting organ on the explicit and graphic anti-Semitic material being regularly disseminated by official Palestinian sources, this material should be regularly presented to both Jewish and international mainstream media by the Israeli government, itself, which, for reasons that defy my capacity to fathom, seems to believe that the truth about incitement propaganda is politically incorrect, and will be of no interest to readers/listeners. Israel’s p.r. establishment is so tragically ineffective (and even counterproductive) that I am often left gasping with despair as I watch one purported Israel spokesperson after another be savagely abused and distorted on CNN and in the print presses of the U.S. Doesn’t the Israeli government ever consult, for ideas, with the Jewish audiences, around the world, who are forced to watch this constant humiliation? We could greatly help Israel to navigate and overcome this abuse, if only Israel would ask for our input. ‘Till that happens, I fear the situation will only get worse. Tonight, on CNN, one commentator has just finished bashing and insulting Mark Regev for saying EXACTLY what that damned commentator wanted to hear, i.e., that Israel is appalled by the killing of a Palestinian teenager this week, and that under Israeli law, whoever perpetrated the crime will receive the full measure of justice/punishment. Yet the commentator went on and on accusing and inserting inuendo, as if Mr. Regev had declared vengeance killing to be official Israeli policy. . .The media here hate Israel so much that they can no longer even hear or see straight . .I do not exaggerate.

    • Lucille Kaplan

      Correction: PalestinIAN Media Watch (the name of the news organization I am praising in my comment).

  • Israel lost the PR war because the media is controlled by subhuman, Jew-hating Nazi scum – the BBC – which is nothing more than an English language Der Stuermer on steroids – being the biggest offender.

    You cannot get your message out when your enemies control the media.

    This is also true of Republicans in the US, where 90% of the media is controlled by the radical left.

    • Not true. Israel lost the war, because the other side is more skillful, both strategically and tactically far superior to Israel when it comes to propaganda.
      It is important to give acknowledgment to successful enemy when it is due, it is also important to get out of our collective ego and the illusion of moral superiority, of the way and learn from the enemy’s success.

      In war only one thing counts: VICTORY!

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