Tuesday, January 31st | 9 Shevat 5783

July 10, 2012 11:25 pm

The Power of Words, the Power of Shouting

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avatar by Ronn Torossian

In today’s battle for hearts and minds, the journalist sets the terms of debate.

A newspaper is a grand thing. There is no labor of higher worth than that of the journalist, whether he writes instructional articles or reports on a robbery that took place yesterday in the slums. Like the function of the blood circulating through the body, or like the function of commerce in the international market, so is the function of journalism in the realm of the spirit,” wrote Ze’ev Jabotinsky, in 1932.

Who were the first to teach us to always interfere in matters that are not ours, to judge people and nations, even though we were never chosen for the position of judge? The work of the publicist is a legacy from the Prophets of Israel.”

Our passion is to speak, to proclaim—’shouting’ is what the same audience calls it, ‘we have no need for words, give us actions.’ One thing that audience forgets is that speech is also an action – perhaps the most authentic of all other actions. Cities have been destroyed, and more will fall, but what was shouted in the wilderness thousands of years ago is alive and still relevant. The world was created by the Word. The world will be mended by the Article.”

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And in thinking about the power of the almighty article, Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of the State of Israel, was recently reported as saying in an interview that the two main enemies of Israel are, “the New York Times and Haaretz.”

What we learn through this quote is that, as Jabotinksy says, journalists can help us rise up, but the power of the word can also lay us low, this is made clear in a U.S. Department of State Report from 2005.

The proliferation of media outlets (television, radio, print media and the internet) has vastly increased the opportunity for purveyors of anti-Semitic material to spread their propaganda unhindered.”

“Anti-hate laws provide some protection, but freedom of expression safeguards in many western countries limited the preventive measures that governments could take. Satellite television programming easily shifts from one provider to another and Internet offerings cross international borders with few or no impediments.”

Critics of Israel frequently use anti-Semitic cartoons depicting anti-Jewish images and caricatures to attack the State of Israel and its policies, as well as Jewish communities and others who support Israel. These media attacks can lack any pretext of balance or even factual basis and focus on the demonization of Israel. The United States is frequently included as a target of such attacks, which often assert that U.S. foreign policy is made in Israel or that Jews control the media and financial markets in the United States and the rest of the world.”

In other words, Israel and America are big Satan and little Satan.

This background information might help us understand why this survey didn’t receive much media coverage.  A survey of more than 28,000 people in 27 countries, asked respondents to rate 12 countries about whether they were a positive or negative influence upon the world.  On average, 56 per cent of people in surveyed countries viewed Israel as having a negative influence, while 17 per cent said its influence was positive. Iran scored 54 per cent and 18 per cent, almost the same! Israel also stands out for having the largest number of countries viewing it negatively. Iran is regarded unfavorably in 21 countries, the United States and North Korea in 20.

So, if what the survey is true, then Israel and America are, indeed, big Satan and little Satan.  Amazing in today’s times. Truly baffling for me. And how did this happen?

“You can’t brainwash people for four years that Israel is an illegitimate country and that Israelis are like the Nazis and that Israelis are monsters and expect that nothing will happen to Jews,” said an adviser to Natan Sharansky, the head of the Jewish Agency, a few years ago.

Undoubtedly, repercussions worldwide for Jews and Israel emanate from this awful media coverage. Clearly, the media is in the business of shaping minds, and they are harming Jews worldwide with their bias.

Owning a US PR Agency, I work on the communication front lines and believe that the media contributes in major ways to Israel’s problems in the world. Any supporter of the State of Israel should do their part to spread positive messages about Israel. Positive Public Relations for Israel can help mend many problems facing the only democratic ally of America in the Middle East.

In terms of history, let’s all raise our voices for the good: I challenge you to find one positive story that speaks to the strength of the Israeli people, the wisdom of Jewish law or the amazing miracles that have allowed our people to survive for so many thousands of years. Send it out to your social networks, help stem the tide of hate with an  act — typing is also an “action,” in Jabotinsky’s words — let us all harness our keyboards for good!

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR Agency.

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