Prime minister: Olmert: Heading for a crisis
Since the end of the war in the north, two main issues have been keeping the public busy: The demand for an account of the failures by the Israeli leadership, and criticism of the press and nature of reports.
A new study, however, buy Dr. Uri Lebel of the Ben Gurion Institute, Beer Sheva University, has found that another problem requires urgent treatment: Israeli PR.
During the poll, entitled "the management of Israeli PR during the second Lebanon war," members of six groups were asked to watch video recordings of Israeli PR in Israel and abroad, and to answer questions. Lebel says he held polls in the past on issues of strategic press, political psychology, and army-media relations. The result of his latest poll show that Israeli PR was so lacking, that in my cases the public was forced to rely on the reports of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Lebel says a good media leader relies on three points – gripping the audience, being watchable, and giving the feeling of certainty.
The participants of the poll were asked who gave the a sense of certainty regarding the continuance of the war, and who was most authentic. The results were unequivocal: The Israeli public chose Nasrallah's speeches as giving it both.
'Nasrallah contradicted the Israeli spokespeople'
Asked about Nasrallah's authenticity compared to that of Israeli spokespeople, not one Hebrew spokesperson received high authenticity marks.
"We reached a really crazy situation," says Lebel. "A psychological situation which seems inconceivable: Instead of the Israeli public watching our national spokesman who tells it what is happening every day, who will minimize the chaos and who will be seen as believable, something unprecedented happened: The public perceived the enemy leader against whom we fought as having those characteristics, and waited impatiently for his speeches. Nasrallah contradicted the Israeli spokespeople more than once, many times contradicting the minister of defense – he was the first to announce the deaths of Israeli soldiers and the sad circumstances which led to them."
He added: "This isn't the first time that a bereaved mother found out the truth of the death of her son in recordings released by Hizbullah, where a totally different picture is shown to what the IDF and its spokespeople have provided."
Dr. Lebel believes that the figures indicate a serious crisis of leadership down the road. "It's not important if objectively the leadership did its best – now the public perceives it as cut off, unprofessional, and boastful. It won't follow the leadership to the next confrontation," he said.