Ingrained into the international psyche is the haunting image of Gaza’s children, weeping by candlelight in wake of Israel’s blackout of the Strip.
Lost in these haunting, heart-wrenching images is the little known fact that Israel continued to supply electricity to Gaza even after the disengagement, and also in wake of repeated violence and Qassam rocket attacks. Al-Jazeera’s broadcast of these images also seemed to be more than conveniently timed.
Israel appears to be failing yet again in its PR efforts opposite Hamas, according to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s spokesman Ra’anan Gissin.
“Just like we failed to handle the shooting of 12-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed al-Dura, we are failing in our management of this blackout as well .We can’t very well tell the world at this point that Hamas itself is to blame for this situation,” said Gissin.
The Gaza blackout once again indicates that Hamas is emphatically winning the media war, noted Gissin.
“The Palestinians are using the media as a weapon, just like the Iranians are doing in their battle with the US. It is said that the western world, the originator of the modern media, fails to use it as a tool to further its own ends,” said Gissin.
Sharon’s former spokesman further stated that the west must now “fight back relentlessly and at full force, and launch a media counter-attack. It is images that the world needs to see, not words, and Israel must disclose these images even at the risk of exposing classified information.”
Gaza children (Photo: Reuters)
To counter these stark images of darkness and suffering, Israel must show the world the bright and illuminated path that it follows, suggested Gissin.
“We must show the world how Hamas suffocates Gaza’s residents and does not allow them to earn a living. The world must conversely see how Israel treats Palestinian patients at its hospitals, even though allowing them to cross into Israel can potentially endanger Israeli live,” he said.
'PR counter-attack needed'Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, echoed Gissin’s statements, and stated that the Israeli Foreign Ministry should roll up its sleeves and launch a massive media counter-attack against Hamas.
“Hamas receives massive coverage on the al-Jazeera news network, where as there are European countries that have never even heard of Sderot. The Foreign Ministry and the foreign minister should be interviewing 24-7 and they have failed to do that even after Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s speech. Official response to that speech came from the IDF, not the Foreign Ministry,“ said Mazel.
In stark contrast to these claims of PR defeat, Former Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Liel, stated that Israel has done all that it possibly can on the hostile media front, even when faced with highly unfavorable conditions.
“Israel is portraying events in the country as best it can, but even the most seasoned public relations manager cannot convince the world that Israelis are suffering more than their Palestinian counterparts.
"The gap between the daily lives of Israelis and Palestinians is so very vast that not media manipulation can possibly bridge it,” said Liel.