The government of Israel pays a lot of lip service to the importance of Public Relations, but clearly the importance of a timely response is something they need work on. As CEO of a PR agency, I know well the importance of reacting and acting quickly. Media doesn’t wait.
In the Year 2000, worldwide headlines described an incident in which 12-year-old Mohammed al-Dura was killed by Israeli soldiers while hiring behind his father. The story dominated worldwide headlines – and this incident and strong images caused a tremendous amount of damage to Israel.
This week, more than 12 years later, the government released a 36-page report which accused the France 2 television station who filmed the scene of fabricating the report – and claimed that indeed al-Dura was never hit by gunfire. As the report stated “The review revealed that there is no evidence that Jamal or the boy were wounded in the manner claimed in the report, and that the footage does not depict Jamal as having been badly injured. In contrast, there are numerous indications that the two were not struck by bullets at all.” There was a lot more said in the report, and Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said the incident was “a blood libel.”
Whether they are right or wrong, what took 12 years to release this report? 12 years in an era of social media? Awful, terrible and not acceptable.
And this isn’t an isolated incident. A month ago, the Israel Defense Forces announced that the IDF is making a movie of its own to counter the original Jenin movie which was produced in 2002 and won many awards worldwide. A movie was made – and it took 11 years to respond? 11 years?
There is a ton of advice which Israel needs in the Public Relations arena – but certainly responding within the same decade of an incident’s occurrence would be a start. Israel is really awful at projecting their image and I hope and pray it gets better. Media today moves instantly – no crisis PR issue can take 11 or 12 years to respond to.