"Abu Amar, I guarantee your safety. Do not fear. We want you to continue leading your People towards the direction of peace." Israeli Defense Minister Ben Elizer on Israeli TV yesterday
MID-EAST REALITIES © - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/07: One thing about countries that have democratic features and most especially a professional and independent press -- sometimes insightful even amazing little tidbits result either from leaks or investigations. Like today's story about how Ariel Sharon himself is also the Commanding General in Israel's public relations war, shaking up and countermanding his troops in this arena as well. Like the public comment made yesterday by Israeli Defense Minister Ben Elizer on Israel TV -- supposedly made to Arafat to reassure him, but in reality made about Arafat to further weaken him. But even with such info and insights, what's still very much lacking is hard-headed and sophisticated analysis to put everything in focus and perspective -- and that's where MER comes in.
While all this is going on Sharon has canceled his fund-raising visit to the USA next week. Instead he is putting emphasis on putting in place a whole new Israeli world-wide "hasbara" (i.e., propaganda) effort with new people and more money. Meanwhile, the poor Palestinians continue to be represented in the USA by the petty and often ridiculous long-time Arafat crony Hassan Abdul Rahman who has been there since the 70s.
[Ha'aretz 7 August 2001]: A bitter argument over Israel's public relations efforts broke out yesterday between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Ministry Director-General Avi Gil.
During a discussion on what PR line Israel should take, Gil suggested emphasizing that Israel's "hand is extended in peace."
"Who would buy it?" interrupted Sharon angrily. "The Palestinians want to blow us up, and we're extending our hand in peace? We need to explain our right to the land. There are astonishing archaeological findings from the synagogue in Katzrin, and that's what we should present to the world."
When Gil presented the list of people his ministry plans to send overseas to explain Israel's positions, Sharon responded sarcastically: "All good people, who not long ago were explaining that if we would only give a little more, we could restore the status quo ante."
"People need to know why we, as the Jewish people, have a right to be here," Sharon stressed. "We need to tell people what we are doing here, just as the Palestinians do all the time. My tourism guidebook is the Bible."
The meeting's participants, including Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, did agree that the Palestinian Authority should be presented in a negative light, but not by means of publicly attacking it. Instead, Israel will quietly give relevant material to foreign news agencies. Sharon said it was important to explain to the world "how the PA works," and particularly the corruption in its leadership.
Gideon Meir, the Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for PR, told the meeting that Israel's image in the written press is better than its image in the electronic media, both because newspapers offer context rather than merely pictures, and because they are more open to briefings by Israeli officials.
(Jerusalem Post - Jerusalem - 7 August 2001): Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday conducted his first intensive meeting on Israel's public relations policies since taking office, meeting for more than two hours at his Jerusalem residence with top officials in the Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office. Sharon was quoted as telling the meeting that Israel should make a point of emphasizing the Jewish right to the land, because it is too often forgotten. He also said that, while Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat should not be personally attacked, the corruption in the authority has not been emphasized enough. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres recommended using more intellectuals, like writer Amos Oz and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General for Public Affairs Gideon Meir, who participated in the closed-door meeting, told The Jerusalem Post last night that Israel intends to conduct a "back-to-basics campaign" in the US. He said the campaign will remind Jews in North America of Israel's connection to the land and Jerusalem. The campaign will feature speakers who will be sent to synagogues across America the week before Rosh Hashana, brochures that will be distributed on the night of Yom Kippur, and massive rallies in New York, Memphis, and Toronto. The Council of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the United Jewish Communities will be strategic partners in the campaign. Meir is leaving this morning for Paris, where he intends to hire a French public relations firm to help improve Israel's image in Europe. The firm will devise campaigns for Belgium, Spain, Italy, and the Scandinavian countries. Based on suggestions by Howard J. Rubenstein Associates, the firm Israel hired in New York, the government has already begun to increase the representation of women in its PR campaigns and limit the usage of IDF speakers in uniform. Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin-Pelosoff will represent the country more frequently, and Likud MK Nomi Blumenthal was sent to speak to American and British TV networks yesterday. The IDF Spokesman has added a spokeswoman who speaks English fluently, without an accent. A worldwide campaign is also being prepared to respond to the UN conference in Durban, South Africa, that may equate Zionism with racism when it convenes at the end of the month. Meir and Foreign Ministry Director-General Avi Gil presented what Israel has done over the last six months to improve its PR campaign. They showed Sharon a video revealing that 95 percent of reporting coming out of the Palestinian Authority has been controlled by the PA, which brings reporters to locations of confrontations and confiscates film it does not want seen. Others at the meeting were cabinet secretary Gideon Sa'ar, Sharon's bureau chief Uri Shani, foreign affairs adviser Danny Ayalon, and Ra'anan Gissin and Arnon Perlman, spokesmen