It is not new that Israel is getting bad press around the world. It started in Europe, and it spread to the American Campuses, where Jewish students are ashamed to say they are Jewish because of their relationship to Israel….
Israel is the “Bad Guy”….It is not “Cool” to be Pro-Israel…it is “Cool” to boycott Israeli products….
Without always understanding the historical, religious and political dimensions of the conflict, students in Europe and in America, are pointing a finger at Israel for being the “Dominating country” abusing of its power on the “Poor and Powerless” Palestinian people.
While it may be true that some of Israel’s actions should be revised, the reality is never black & white. It would be too simplistic to say that the Israelis are the “Bad Guys” and the Palestinians are the “Good Guys”….
And yet, the Palestinian people have succeeded in building a story around their people and their history, thereby taking the role of the “Good Guys” in the eyes of the public opinion. They are using all possible Medias to convey their message, sometimes it is authentic and sometimes it is fabricated, in order for the world to sympathize with their cause – what is called Pallywood.
In a time and age where pictures and videos are more important than words, slogans are more important than books and celebrities win the popularity contest over historians and intellectuals – if you don’t build a strategic narrative for others to understand who you are and what motivates your actions, people will take the shortcut and remember only what was served to them in a silver platter.
They will make easy associations with things they already know, because it doesn’t take efforts and the narrative is clear, such as – Nazi, Apartheid…
As Jonathan Gabay, a Branding Guru, puts it in his lecture I attended this week on Branding Psychology: “Today, Branding is about defending a cause, it is about engaging people to feel connected by the same values, and it is about belonging to a tribe which is united around the same belief, sharing the same faith”.
This is exactly what ISIS is doing: it is showing young people that are lacking values, a path that leads them to serve a fulfilling cause which will give a sense of meaning to their lives.
Israel does not have a branding narrative; it does not have a story. Except for being “the country of the Jews”, which is more a definition than a narrative, Israel doesn’t not have a vision, a mission statement, or a story to sell…
Until today, Israel is still relying on the Bible to tell its story. The only texts that Bibi is quoting at the UN or in the Congress are always coming from the same source: the Bible.
Even if we use this source extensively to justify our attachment to this country, we cannot rely exclusively on it. We need to adapt its message to the younger generation in a language that young people can relate to, and most important, we need to find ways to explain the problems Israel is facing today.
Today, Israel is in lack of a narrative. It is missing the cause that justifies its existence, not to itself, but to the world. It is missing the existential meaning that makes it worth defending it, that will convince the rest of the world that we have reasons to fight for our right to live in our country. A story which will unify the religious, historical and ideological aspects of Israel’s identity, and which will give meaning to its positions.
Branding psychology says that marketing messages are not heard by the rational part of our brain, but rather by the emotional part of our brain. So the secret is to convince people to join your cause with emotional messages, not with intellectual or historical proofs – they need to FEEL your story and to CONNECT with its meaning on a subconscious level in order to belong to your “tribe”.
Since Israel is not talking to the Nation’s subconscious, but to their minds, the natural spontaneous old hostile feelings against Jews, which has been fed by the World’s Subconscious for centuries and across the board – Christians and Muslims alike – come back fiercely and without even an ounce of logic or rational justification.
Obviously, Communication, Branding & Narrative will not solve all of Israel’s problems, but it would enable individuals, groups and countries to see the reality the way Israel sees it, and will maybe – little by little – allow the World’s subconscious to change their ancient perception of Jews and Israel and make room for a new one.