The more things change, the more they stay the same. This week, Israel’s deputy foreign minister Ze’ev Elkin said Google jeopardized the “peace process” by creating a “Palestine” home page. Clearly some in Israel understand the importance of media – and indeed Google is the world’s most powerful media organization. Although there doesn’t seem to be much of a peace process anyway – in a statement, Google said they are following the lead of the UN … and other international organizations.”
As Israel continues to get creamed in the reputation industry – nothing’s changed since the remarkable 2002 Israel State Comptroller’s report which said that “since its establishment in 1948, Israel’s intelligence organs have not succeeded to respond to the broad-based propaganda and incitement by the Arab world.” As the findings of the State Comptroller showed there is “A lack of an overall strategic public relations conception and objective”, and also “No comprehensive budgetary analysis to serve government public relations requirements.” And nothing has changed.
Then there was criticism of the state report when Israel had wall-to-wall criticism of the world’s media during the siege of Yasser Arafat’s Mukata compound. And it happens time and time again – and happens whether the right or left is in charge of the Prime Minister’s office. And there is media bias, and on a regular basis Israel is maligned in the media.
But, there are few PR Agencies retained by Israel and few professionals staffing the various needs of Israel to communicate to the media. Public Relations is a crucial element of war – yet Israel is woefully prepared for this aspect of the war.
As Elkin in the Knesset said “Israel’s hasbara budget is a total of NIS 9.5 million, compared to NIS 200 million for the Palestinians. How are we expected to deal with that? It’s like a small vehicle fighting a platoon of tanks.”