Martin Alintuck
Global Jew Living in Thailand

7 Strategies Israel Must Implement to Better Fight the PR War

"Peace if possible. Truth at all costs." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Israel may be winning the war against Hamas, but it’s the PR war I am worried about. 

The Israel-Hamas PR war is being fought – 24 hours a day — in the media, on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Telegram, and online, broadcast and print media.  It would be fair to say Israel is losing that war and the war of information (or disinformation) is becoming increasingly important to how the world views Israel, Hamas and the conflict.

Gone are the days when people would read one media outlet – usually their daily newspaper with the largest circulation – and bestow the paper with the opportunity to shape hearts and minds as a neutral arbiter of the facts.

Bots, algorithms, psychological strategies to generate dopamine rushes and corporate media ownerships have created a toxic brew of a “corrupted” media market.  Simply put, even thoughtful, thinking people don’t know where to get accurate information.

It’s in this media world that Israel fights and it has not been doing a great job.  The frequent soldier testimonials on TikTok, IDF briefings on Telegram, Prime Minister speeches and spokesperson updates are necessary and useful.  But they are not “breaking through the noise” — as we say in the global communications business.  Israel needs to take a “start-up” mentality — after all it is called the “start-up nation” — when it comes to telling its story.

It needs to be strategic, creative, ruthless, tireless and open to non-traditional ways of reaching the world.

Seven strategies Israel MUST implement to better fight the PR war:

  1. When a Media Outlet Tells you Gaza Officials Have Said (insert number) Have Been Killed, Israel Must Cry “Foul”

Why would ANYONE believe a terrorist organization fighting a war when it provides information?  Hamas is not a functioning government.  Hamas does not care for the welfare of its people.  Hamas is a terrorist organization with one goal in mind: the destruction of Israel and eradication of Jews across the globe.

Imagine if, during World War II, media reported that, according to the Nazis, the number of Jews killed in the Warsaw Ghetto was much less than people think.  Or if a Nazi spokesperson argued there actually was no “Final Solution.”  It was just propaganda made up by Germany’s enemies.

Whenever a media outlet quotes “Gaza officials,” “Gaza Health Officials,” and any of the many misnomers bandied about, Israel spokespeople must call it out for what it is.  The media are taking the word of a terrorist organization that has for years shown its true colors and on October 7th brought its evil to a new level.  These are not people who can be trusted.  They have no credibility.

Any media outlet which quotes Hamas as authoritative becomes complicit. 

  1. Israel Must Help People Understand Who Is Being Eliminated and Why.

Part of Israel’s military approach is to eliminate senior Hamas leaders.  The problem is their killings don’t register for most people because regular people, who do not follow a “who’s who” of Hamas, often have no idea who they are and the crimes they have committed.

When Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of Hamas’ military wing was killed by Israel and the news was announced, how many knew he was considered “the strategic mind of Hamas” and that he would replace Yahya Sinwar if the Hamas leader was killed?  How many people have died because of Issa?  What other heinous acts has Issa been a part of?  Same questions go for Hamas Northern Gaza military leader Abu Anas, Hamas Battalion Commander Rafet Salman and any others eliminated by Israel.

The simple fact is most of these names are not known to Israel’s various audiences and Israel needs to tell their stories.  In a sense, they have to put a face on evil and put evil on a face.

If it was vital to eliminate these terrorists, let people know what they did and why the world is a safer place without them.

  1. Teach People War is NOT a Video Game

Certainly, the younger generation of protestors against Israel and the war, and, I think many older people, have never experienced war and likely don’t understand what war is.

It’s not a “Call of Duty” video game or something that is truly antiseptic and can be experienced by indulging in real and virtual clips on social media.

War is an awful, terrible experience where people are hurt and often die while tragedy happens every day.  Wars are bloody, scary and, at times, seemingly fought for no rational reason.  Innocent people always get killed and while that’s awful, it’s a fact of war.

The problem with so many media commentators these days is their acceptance that Israel may fight back but they cannot stomach the fact that Israel’s response is not a victim-free approach where innocent people do not get killed.  They ignore Hamas being embedded among civilians and using human shields; while at the same time they expect Israel to fight a war where no one – other than the terrorists —  is hurt or killed.

Israel needs to educate people as to what war is, what are the awful downsides to it and why there is a war between Hamas and Israel today.  Israel certainly did not want this war, Israel did not start this war.

But Israel must explain this war so that more people understand why it is a just war.

  1. Build The Israel Project: an effort to create and promote “digestible” stories to explain the war, explain Israel, explain the history of Hamas and teach people about the Hamas War.

In 2019, in the United States, the Lincoln Project was started by conservatives who were decidedly anti-Donald Trump as a way to mock him, tease him and “explain” why he was unfit to be president.  The Lincoln Project’s hard-hitting 30-second ads have been brutally effective and they are PR works of art.  Trump supporters certainly don’t like them; but they basically represent a new model of attack ads.

In my mind, the Israel Project can use the same approach to further explain the war and Israel’s fight for the right to exist.  The Hamas War offers numerous opportunities to create hundreds of mini-stories that dive deeper into the War than typical media coverage does.  It allows for stories created, produced and distributed by Israel.  There is no need to rely on others.

Some sample stories – produced in 30-90 second ads — the Israel Project could create:

  • Hamas’ history of attempting to terrorize and destroy Israel.
  • What did Hamas do with the billions of dollars it has received in aid over the last 20+ years?
  • The role Iran plays as the chief supporter of Hamas.
  • Why the US campus protests have it all wrong.
  • The history of Gaza, who lived there, who owned it and whose land it is.
  • How the world’s reaction to the Hamas War reminds so many of the world’s reaction to the Nazis in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
  • Why did it take ANY UN women’s organization 7 months to decry the sexual violence perpetrated on Israeli and Jewish women by Hamas?
  • How antisemitism is truly what’s behind so much of the global “hand-wringing” over Israel’s attempt to defeat Hamas.
  • Where were these so-called defenders of Muslims when Syria’s Assad was killing hundreds of thousands of Muslims?
  • Why did the protests only start when the Jews started fighting back?
  • Why weren’t the US and global college students protesting when ISIS was wantonly slaughtering Muslims?
  • The threat of Hezbollah, its status as an Iran proxy, and why it is such a danger to Israel.

Israel must tell these mini-stories to better educate people and ensure the truth is out there and easily accessible to those who care.  Story-telling works.

  1. Diversify and Add Additional Spokespeople that Audiences Can Relate To

Of course, a country’s prime minister and/or president is always the chief spokesperson for the country.  But leaders always carry reputational baggage that is often very hard to make go away…especially during a war.

Israel should immediately “deputize” Noa Tishby – formerly Israel’s Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel – as a senior spokesperson for the country.  Smart, articulate, a passionate Zionist activist and someone who knows how to reach people. –after all she is a Hollywood producer and was an actress — Tishby knows how to effectively communicate.   She is great at telling truths about Israel that easily weave webs around the ignorance of media and their guests…especially when they are biased against Israel.

(I know she was fired for opposing the ill-fated judicial reform, but, really, so what?  It’s “all-hands-on-deck” during war and Israel should use every weapon it deems effective.)

Tishby is a not-so-secret and very effective weapon.

(And speaking of strong women, are there really no strong, accomplished IDF female leaders who could also be spokespeople?  I am not making some DEI argument here but diversity in spokespersons helps reach different target audiences.)

  1. Create Pro-Israel PR Councils in Various Countries to Help “Sell” Israel’s Story

There is no shortage of PR professionals who are supporters of Israel and would welcome the opportunity to do their part to support the country.  To clarify, it’s easy to get The New York Times to write an article about the war.  Like any good political campaign, the question is, Who is going to contact the Des Moines Register in Iowa to pitch a pro-Israel story?  Who will be chasing the San Jose Mercury News in California to get an article that tells an accurate story? Who will be trying to book pro-Israel speakers on WBZ Radio’s Nightside evening talk show in Boston?

Local consulates can only do limited outreach and Israel needs a dedicated PR team to “sell” the story.  And that’s just in the United States.  An organization of volunteer PR professionals could help reach hundreds of media outlets in Canada, Spain, Italy, India, Mexico, Philippines, Germany, England, etc..  There are approximately 192 countries in the world.  Israel needs to pick which countries are most influential and/or important and recruit volunteers to support its PR efforts.

There are many PR professionals – Jewish and non-Jewish – ready to help.  They are an untapped resource.

  1. Support the PR Effort By Bringing In Senior Communications Professionals to Help.

Outside of the government and/or military establishment, PR experts who have successful careers managing crises, selling products, and driving perceptions for Fortune 500 companies and brands would be a perfect complement to Israel’s Government PR practitioners.  Diversity of thought – when it comes to PR or really anything – will help create a more strategic and successful PR campaign.

There is no shortage of senior communications professionals who would LOVE to support Israel’s PR war effort.  As my father used to say, “All you have to do is ask.”

Israel needs to strengthen its efforts to promote its side of the war.  There is no guarantee that the “hearts and minds” of a majority of people will be changed.  But the country needs to use all of its resources – and new strategies as noted here – to do a better job.

I am ready to sign up.  Are you?



About the Author
A native of Boston, Martin has lived and worked in the US, China, Japan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Singapore. His career has focused on global communications as he has built and managed global PR firm offices and counseled numerous Fortune 500 brands and companies. A graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School and Brandeis University, Martin ran the $65M American presence at Expo 2010 Shanghai, the largest world’s expo ever. He is most passionate about the Boston Red Sox baseball team and teaching his young daughters about the joys of being Jewish.
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