Our Hamas is your ISIS: How Israel's hasbara needs to change - opinion
THERE IS no expectation for Hamas to take action regarding the life of Palestinians in Jerusalem
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
Israel is too busy telling stories of “look at how they’re attacking us,” but defense is the story of the underdog not the story that the regional superpower can tell.
“Israel Under Attack” cry out the posts we are seeing all across social media. Whether they are Israeli celebrities abroad, influencers or public diplomacy hasbara organizations – everyone has come together to share and show solidarity. We in turn feel content and assured that it will work. After all, it seems obvious to tell our side of the story to the world. They’ll see that we’re under attack and will immediately come over to our side, of course. But then reality slaps us in the face.
“Gaza Under Attack” shout out the memes from Gaza, with no less horrific pictures but with much greater circulation and impact. Their story is much simpler – Israel is destroying Gaza. Israel is blowing up buildings and killing children and as a result, in the battle of photos of pathos we don’t stand a chance. And the truth is, we are even hurting ourselves.
We’re losing the hasbara battle because we’re simply fighting the wrong battle.
Israel is too busy being defensive, Israel is too busy telling stories of “look at how they’re attacking us,” but defense is the story of the underdog not the story that the regional superpower can tell. That narrative simply does not resonate with people.
It is important to remember that the first rule of propaganda is to focus on the target audience. The sender is not the recipient and what concerns the sender does not necessarily concern the recipient. It is, of course, extremely tempting and easy to manage a campaign that will convince ourselves but that is where the mistake is made.
So what can be done?
Over the last years there have been an endless number of terrorist acts “courtesy” of ISIS and others. In Brussels, there was an attack on the airport and at the Jewish museum. In France, there was the attack at the Bataclan, the attack at the Jewish supermarket and the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo attack. There have also been countless attacks in the UK, Denmark, Spain and many more European countries. Terrorist attacks at rock shows, Christmas markets, and they have been carried out with gun fire, hit-and-run car attacks, with knives and whatever else is available to the terrorists. These attacks have been ingrained in the European psyche.
When I was visiting Vienna after one of the attacks at Christmas and I saw short concrete bollards used to aid security and crowd control at entrances to local markets, I understood then and was saddened that things had changed forever. Despite the sadness, this new reality brings with it great opportunity.
The world has changed and so must we adapt our hasbara efforts as well.
The story of Israel can no longer be one of defense and pity. It must be a campaign of offense with tough demands and a message to the world. If you do not stand by us this will reach your doorstep as well: Our Hamas is your ISIS.
We Israelis know how to deal with terror, we’ve been doing it for 73 years already but you guys haven’t been dealing with it for too long. If you don’t stand up against it, it will come knocking on your door too. It has happened before and will happen again.
On December 19th, 2016, there was a hit-and-run terror attack at a Christmas market in Berlin. An ISIS terrorist from Tunisia stopped a truck, killed the driver and then proceeded to run over and murder 12 people. Three weeks later, there was a terrorist attack on the pedestrian promenade in Armon Hanatziv (East Talpiot) in Jerusalem. A terrorist with a truck ran over and murdered four Israeli soldiers. And then – suddenly for the first time in history – the Israeli flag was lofted above Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, where the Nazi flag had flown decades ago.
The reason for this was simple. After so many terror attacks in Israel it was the horrific sight of death in Berlin that caused Berliners to stand with Jerusalemites. It was only once they understood that if they didn’t stand by us, terror would stand with them.
The writer is a strategic adviser to leaders around the world and is a former adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.