1. Enlisting and Lobbying the MediaWith acknowledgement to David Olesker, whose original document is reproduced in this section, with minor changes.
It is counter-productive to make enemies in the media - they always have the last word. This is not to say that the media must not be monitored and called to account for inaccuracies and bias: letter-writing and lobbying of the media are vitally important. However, there are other ideas that you can try to enlist the media.
a. Media Events
- A solidarity rally with Israel might well be covered by the local media. It is even more likely to be covered if it is "media-genic".
- A memorial service for victims of terror might get media coverage. To arrange to have a children's choir sing at the service will almost certainly get more coverage.
- The typical group of demonstrators with banners might get media coverage.
- A dramatic tableau in costume will almost certainly get more coverage than a small group waving a banner.
- Give awards to people who support Israel, dress up in costume... be outrageous!
- It is always important to be novel and original to grab the media's attention. Be creative, be different: Recently, Jewish residents of the territories placed hundreds of yellow ducks along roads, where there had been terrorist attacks, to protest government policy. Silent demonstrators held placards saying, "We won't be sitting ducks!"
The Israeli media loved the idea - and it is one which can also be used outside Israel successfully.
b. Local Connections
Are there former members of your community who have made aliyah? Put the local media representative in Israel in touch with them. A local person recently on duty in the Israeli army is a natural object for media attention. Any local news outlet will jump at the chance to add a local slant to an international story.
c. Un-mediated Media
Newer, highly popular forms of media are less dependent on the traditional gatekeepers of journalists and editors. You can use them to bypass the shortcomings of the mainstream media.
Use the local talk radio as a platform for pro-Israel views. Don't think you need to limit your contributions to answering anti-Israel sentiments. Be pro-active - call shows that deal with media issues, foreign affairs, defense, or economic issues.
- Think about what you want to say before calling in.
- Keep your contribution simple - and vivid.
- Be authentic: "I was in Israel and I saw...," "I spoke to my sister in Gilo last night and...."
Use chatrooms and Forums as you would talk radio.
You can e-mail short videos or MS PowerPoint® presentations to friends. Keep file sizes small - no one likes a long download - it is counterproductive.
Use websites as you would newspapers, newsletters, cable TV - as relevant, and as a cost-effective way of spreading ideas, updates, and campaign resources.
Remember that Internet content has to be transparent, easy to browse - yet substantiated in fact; the web pages should be informative, but not wordy or weighty; the format should be up-to-date; and - most importantly - content should be well-focused towards the desired outcomes.
The guideline is: remember the "Bosnia rule" - don't bombard people with too many messages, or too much information.
See Activity IV.4 Lobbying
2. Dealing with Israel-haters
With acknowledgement to David Olesker, whose original document is reproduced in this section, with minor changes.
Anti-Zionists and their supporters have numerous and skillful advocates, who are malicious and often antisemitic in their hatred. Reason alone will not prevail.
This is not about dialogue, nor is it about constructive and genuine discussion: the Israel-bashers are interested in one thing, namely, bashing Israel.
In the light of these professional attacks, it is imperative to respond, or engage in Israeli Advocacy. The first principle is to understand their techniques.
We have seen how they are reported.
We have seen what they say.
Let's see now how they say or do it, and how to address it, bearing in mind that the more one knows, the more options there are to respond - and that there is always a democratic range of perspectives on events and real facts.
You are not going to change the opinion of these professionals, but you do have potential to impact on real-time and virtual participants to the show or debate.
The essence of Israel Advocacy is to address several levels of context and message:
a. Resetting the Paradigm
Resetting the paradigm, the framework of understanding, is crucial to winning any argument. Pro-Israel advocates who do not reset the framework of the argument will not be successful. A common tactic is to set the paradigm through the title of the meeting.
A meeting called: "Israel and its War against the Palestinians" assumes that Israel is at war with the Palestinians - and not vice versa. Once this kind of agenda is set, the work of the anti-Zionist is easy. To argue with them on their agenda almost inevitably dooms you to defeat.
The solution is to change the agenda from the top - and the session title sets the tone!
b. Bridge Building
To set or change the agenda inside a meeting, you can use many sentences that will enable you to talk about what you want.
These sentences include:
- That's not the real issue...
- What you are ignoring is...
Then, you can address a subject that they find more difficult.
Here are a few:
- Terrorism against civilians; (Try to get them to condemn it!)
- Children being used in the Intifada / kids on the street with automatic weapons;
- Barak offered Arafat 95% of the West Bank and a Palestinian State : Arafat said "no".
c. Simplifying or Blurring the Issues
This technique is much loved by anti-Zionists.
The Arab/Israel conflict has lasted over a hundred years. It is a product of religion, history, and world politics. To understand it requires study and thought.
How much easier it is to reduce this extensive historical analysis to slogans, because as an audience member once said to me:
'Don't confuse me with fact!'
Yet, without dedicating time to learning the substance, it is impossible for the pro-Israel activist to provide a credible, substantiated response, however good the sound bytes.
You might also hear something like:
"It's very simple: There are the oppressors and the oppressed in this conflict - and you have to decide which side you are on!"
Once again, there are various ways to respond to an assertion like this, provided you have the background knowledge. As always, you should try and break out of the agenda being set...
"When you talk about the oppressed, are you referring to the victims of Palestinian terrorism? You know, like those kids eating Pizza, when they were blown up by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem?
The real issue on the table is the use of violence by suicide bombers: Sir/Madam, do you condemm suicide bombing?"
d. Personalizing, De-personalizing and Demonizing
This is a very frequent media technique. At the Durban Conference, Israel was demonized to a new heights. This followed a year of largely successful media presentation of Israel as the "bad guy".
Here is one way it works:
Palestinian casualties of clashes with Israeli soldiers are named, described, and eulogized. The listener identifies with the (often authentically) tragic death. Conversely, Israelis are depersonalized as "Israeli forces", with whom it is more difficult to identify.
The next step is when negative images are attached to Israelis. Describing Israel and Israelis as:
"Nazis", "occupiers", "colonialists", "a neo-apartheid state", generates not only alienation from Israeli suffering, but the feeling that Israelis deserve the terror and violence - and goes a long way to legitimizing opposition to Israel.
This approach is applied equally slickly to places. Palestinian Arabs live in "villages," "towns," or "communities." Israelis live in "settlements", a term also used by the Israeli media, but not very helpful in positive image-making.
Obviously, the way to address this is to used nuanced and transparent terms - and thus reverse the tables:
- Israelis live in "villages" or "communities";
- "Demonstrations", should be called what they are: "violent attacks on Israeli soldiers";
- "Attacks on civilians" or off-duty soldiers should be called "terrorist attacks";
- The perpetrators of such attacks should be called "murderers", "rioters", and "violent criminals";
- Israeli's killed on the roads, in cities and the countryside, have names and faces, family and friends.
- Let those names be heard and faces seen. Mention their careers, interests, and aspirations.
See Activity IV.1.
3. Effective Hasbara: The Three Circles of Advocacy
With acknowledgement to David Olesker, whose original document was expanded for this section.
Please draw 3 overlapping circles
Successful advocacy depends on three factors. The three circles of advocacy are: Information, Technique, and Forum.
There are many books to be purchased on the Middle East through Amazon or Barnes & Nobles. Start by building some foundation knowledge from books and use the above Content Links. See also the links below.
Media Bias Coverage
People register messages by their feelings, their reactions. The key technique of the anti-Israel advocate is agenda setting. In response, be pro-active: set the agenda with your message.
Here are some suggestions for alternative messages you can use to set your agenda:
- World unity against terrorism means condemning the continuation of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, too.
- The Palestinian Authority has broken its agreements.
- The Palestinian Authority has incited to violence against Israel and Jews.
Organize a Campaign
Who should be the object of your messages?
There are certain priorities that should be set.
Get everybody involved:
- The Jewish community;
- Christian & Israel Friendship groups;
- Political parties
"Campaigning" in The Myth of Zionism=Racism - After Durban
Remember, today you are not acting alone. There is a whole forum of people out there willing to advocate. The Internet has provided an ideal for efficient networking and organization. We have suggested the power of lobbying - below are some ideas to make it effective.
See also : IV.4.Lobbying Activity
Examples of powerful lobbying through the Internet include:
- Creating a mailing list, to disseminate information for lobbying purposes;
- Designing, building and maintaining an effective website;
- Creating a web ring of like-minded websites (none at present exists!);
- Opening a supervised chat room to discuss issues openly;
- Keep an eye on the media and lobby them if they are unfair: Today it is easier than ever to keep up-to-date with what is being published, through news search sites.
For example: http://www.moreover.com. Type "Israel" into their search engine and you will receive all the major news articles about Israel daily.
4. In Conclusion
If you will it, it is not a dream: you and your core group of activists can make a difference.
- There are examples of excellent Hasbara and plenty of good ideas to apply at different levels, in a variety of settings;
- Many lines of action involve effective networking;
- Many of the quality resources are right here online.