Get Smart: A Reader Correctly Corrects Me
06/30/2010 - 15:47
Jonathan Mark

What follows is a letter sent by Alan Septimus that better illuminates the situation originally discussed in the Media column regarding the flotilla (June 9) 

(The next three paragraphs are what Mr. Septimus is primarily referring to:)

"Yes, says Wiesel, Israel protecting “her citizens remains a legitimate priority,” but “serious questions need to be answered. Is a blockade the only solution to the problem? Were other alternatives examined? Who knew what, and when? Were the Israeli commandos informed of the ship’s prepared resistance? If not, why not? On what level were the decisions made? How will they impact peace negotiations with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas?”

With Wiesel as with Douthat, we’re seeing questions from Israel’s defenders that were once only asked by “anti-Israel” critics.

The papers owned by Rupert Murdoch have always been staunchly supportive of Israel. And yet, the top story in The Wall Street Journal (June 3), “Israel’s Isolation Deepens” (subtitled, “Netanyahu Decries ‘Offensive of Hypocrisy’”) soon detours into a smackdown: “Israel’s bungled attempt to stop the aid flotilla” only illustrates “how an increasingly forceful strategy by Palestinians and their supporters to turn to boycotts, international isolation, and relatively non-violent protests is confronting Israel with a challenge it appears ill-prepared to counter.”"

Mr. Septimus:

Wiesel questions Israel's efficiency, effectiveness, preparation, thoroughness. Was this really an inevitable outcome? Sources quoted in major media a few days before said Israel was resigned to a PR hit over the flotilla. Did the Israeli higher ups know there would be bloodshed? If they did know that violent jihadists had been loaded onto the ship, why did they drop in combatants in that manner and allow them to be severely injured? For the photo-op? Why were the satellite/video capabilities of the Hamas supporters on board the flotilla better than Israel's so that Israel delayed for hours getting out it's video? And so on

It has been some time -- years, decades -- that the Israelis should have understood that the war with the Arabs is being fought in the media, not just the battle field. Israel is woefully unprepared for this war. It is still in denial.

None of this denies Israel's non-negotable right to self-defense. I do not criticize Israel for killing nine so-called " peace activists" in self-defense. And my sympathies to any innocents who died that day for being duped by these "activists" -- that sort of tragedy has been going on for decades, where violent activists cause the death of non violent activists. But Wiesel and all of us are free to criticize Israel's tactics, not in the name of legality but, in the name of wisdom, judgement and effectiveness in winning the war, the PR war. 

The WSJ is wrong to pussy-foot around on the issue of violence. You are certainly correct that the protestors are either violent/pregnant or not. And these guys were. It matters not that only 5% were; as Maxwell Smart would say, "All it takes is one wise guy." But the media doesn't care. And Israel should care about the media. Not because everybody believes what they read. But enough do. And enough can read through the lies when Israel has done nothing wrong AND succeeds, as it did in Entebbe.


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Yes, Alan. The "Cone of Silence" is not the answer. Never was. Great PR and marketing and advertising and branding IS the answer. The Arab world has a 40 year lead on Israel, and on the Jewish people. Arab kingmakers understand the power and worth of creative, accurately targeted media campaigns - and we, the Jewish people and Israel may disappear because one of the wars we are fighting is on the wrong front. I know the advertising and PR business. My work has made BILLIONS of dollars in the private sector for 25 years now. I have helped create and maintain household name brands and media stars alike. Over the years, I have tried to persuade Jewish and Israeli "influencers" about the need for serious PR, Advertising, Marketing and Branding. I was brushed off. In New York. In San Francisco. In local venues. Why? "Because," I was told, "we hold a morally superior position," and "the world should be able to see this." I also received replies like "we need to do 'studies' and see what the viability is". Consequently, millions of dollars of (my family's and other peoples' donation) money was poured into studies that yielded... NOTHING. And worse, delayed action helped lead to the mess we have today. Because while we host glittering dinners and take advantage of photo-ops, the Arab power-movers and shakers stay quietly behind the scenes and win hearts and minds via brilliant pr and advertising offensives. It's simple, Chief. We have to Get Smart. We need to internalize the fact that the world is different now. The days of "Moral empathy" are over, and the days of "Holocaust denial" and "Israel baiting" are here. They have been with us for a very long time. We have to understand that battles are fought and won in the press and on TV and online - these have become the MOST important theaters of war. The "PR campaigns" that currently exist on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people are losing, because they (we) do not understand that PR is not about "consulting" or "think tanks" or "white papers" or "studies", or sending out 500,000 press releases and kits to editors who don't care and will never publish them. Worse, it is not about using ideas because they come from someone because of their social or political connections. It IS about acting right now - partnering with Israel's true friends. Identifying Jewish philanthropists who truly understand that the survival of Israel - and of every Jew - rides on our ability to act quickly. It is about getting real, experienced, fearless, PROVEN creatives to get working and run with it. It is about eliminating activities that waste time, and doing activities that buy us time. It is about putting egos aside, and letting the pros get busy. Even if it feels like it's too late, we have to act like it's not. We have to work like there's no tomorrow. Because if we don't, there may not be one. Think about it.