These attempts failed for two reasons: The resources earmarked to the cause were very small relative to the great challenge, and the objection of foreign ministers who feared that their power would be eroded.
And so, the influence of Arab propaganda continued to grow. The Arab states’ population advantage and their oil resources helped them promote the notion of rejecting the State of Israel’s existence in global public opinion. UN Resolution 3379, which ruled that Zionism is a form of racism, was a harsh expression of this.
The false propaganda directed at the State of Israel, which is isolated within the Arab world, managed to undermine the moral infrastructure of its right to exist. In recent years, this venom tricked into Israel itself, and today parts of Israeli society are feeling a sense of guilt and injustice in the face of the alleged “occupation” and the “robbing” of Land of Israel Arabs.
It is clear to everyone that we must fight for public opinion both here and abroad, and explain the Jewish people’s right to realize its sovereignty, and its attachment to the land of its forefathers in line with its historical, national, and religious heritage in the Land of Israel.
The recent war in Gaza placed the issue of PR on the agenda, in the face of the Israeli government’s inability to explain its motives to the world, particularly vis-à-vis the difficult images distributed worldwide.
Several PR attempts were undertaken during the war: Benjamin Netanyahu was asked to utilize his talents and submitted to endless interviews by foreign media outlets; The IDF sealed off the Gaza Strip to the media so that it does not distribute the images of great destruction; the IDF’s spokesman presented several clips on YouTube. Meanwhile, presentations were sent to diplomats abroad and messages for dissemination were provided.
However, we lacked an offensive initiative, a methodical approach, and a well-oiled mechanism that provides authentic PR materials daily to the hundreds of foreign correspondents across Israel. Above all, we lacked a comprehensive PR effort, directed both domestically and internationally, regarding the principles of justice and morality which the Jewish people’s return to Zion was premised on.
Counter-balance venomous propaganda
Today, it is clear that a country that embarks on war, or any other dramatic step needed to secure its existence, must create public legitimacy both domestically and internationally. The almost complete Palestinian takeover of the public opinion arena in networks such as Sky News, CNN, and BBC News, not to mention the venomous propaganda in the Arabic-language and English-language al-Jazeera, undermines the State of Israel’s ability to win its wars.
An Israeli PR ministry would not be able to change the images of destruction from Gaza, yet should the PR apparatus be given proper budget, and headed by a PR minister with the ability to effectively coordinate and manage our efforts, it may counter-balance the venomous propaganda with other images.
It would be appropriate to equip the Israeli PR ministry with many dozens of video teams, editors, and producers that would generate materials and immediately distribute them to all media outlets. The PR mechanism must go on the offence, be filled with initiative, surprising, and determined, rather than one that merely reacts to provocations. Israeli PR must be present on American campuses, but also on television screens in Romania and China.
F-16I fighter jets are very important for our security, yet in recent years they do not decide wars on their own. The campaigns are increasingly being decided in the theater of perception. We can create a turnaround at the price of several such jets.
The establishment of a new government is an opportunity to bring change. Will the next prime minister be wise enough to step up to the challenge and establish the PR ministry that is so necessary to secure Israel’s existence at this time?
Adi Mintz is the former Yesha Council chairman