Monday, February 18, 2013

Israel's PR Problem

That Israel has the moral highground over her enemies is self-evident. This should be clearer than ever since the west now finds itself in a war with islam. Those who see Israel as the villain it is because they choose to see it that way on account of their own prejudice. Israel’s PR problem is the result of the west's moral relativism.

Into the Fray: Intellectual warriors, not slicker diplomats

Israel’s greatest strategic challenge, its gravest strategic failure, its grimmest strategic danger is the (mis)conduct of its public diplomacy.
Soldiers [illustrative] Photo: Ben HartmanWar is a continuation of politics by other means.
– Carl von Clausewitz, On War, 1832
Politics is war conducted by other means. – David J. Horowitz, The Art of Political War, 2000
Frederick the Great, who reigned as king of Prussia (1740-1786), famously remarked that “Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.” Today, over two centuries later, it would appear this relationship has been entirely reversed, and that “Arms without diplomacy is like music without instruments.”
Arms without diplomacy

In a recent opinion piece (Jerusalem Post, January 7) titled “Why Jews are so bad at PR,” Shmuley Boteach asks, with evident exasperation, “What good is having Apache helicopter gunships, or Merkava tanks, to defend your citizens against attack if you can’t even use them because the world thinks you’re always the aggressor?”
The last several weeks have seen a spate of similar articles, berating the dismal and dysfunctional performance of Israel’s public diplomacy – reflecting, one hopes, growing public discontent at the deplorable state of affairs that has prevailed in this sphere for decades.
Regrettably, it appears that these – richly deserved – rebukes have been largely limited to the nation’s English-language press. A Google search I conducted on major Hebrew media outlets showed that far less attention seems to be allotted to discussion and analysis of this critically important component of Israel’s strategic capabilities – revealing what appears to be an alarming lack of awareness of, and/or interest in, the topic among the Hebrew-reading public.
Difficult to overstate the gravity
It is difficult to overstate the gravity of Israel’s public diplomacy debacle, and to grasp the ongoing official disregard of the strategic dangers that its continued neglect is creating.
Indeed, well over half a decade ago, in an article called “Public diplomacy: the missing component in Israel’s foreign policy,” published in a well-known scholarly journal, Prof. Eytan Gilboa issued the following ominous warning: “The lack of an adequate PD [public diplomacy] program has significantly affected Israel’s strategic outlook and freedom of action…. Any further neglect of PD would not only restrict Israel’s strategic options, it would be detrimental to its ability to survive in an increasingly intolerant and hostile world.”
While nearly all the recently published critiques did a good job in their diagnosis of the malaise, I fear the prescriptions many of them suggested for its remedy are hopelessly inadequate, and reflect a serious underestimation of the depth and the scale of the problem. Continue reading

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