Al Durah: not a Jewish-only affair

On June 26th, the French legal system rebuked Philippe Karsenty case against France 2 and Charles Enderlin. To many in Europe and Israel this information came as a side note to current affairs simply because the event involving Al Durah took place more than ten years ago and for this it appears as a closed case. What had to happen as a result of the unethical journalism and the immoral coverage of the incident already happened and for this, little has been said outside a limited number of communication channels about Mr. Karsenty’s fight to unveil the truth about those events.

Taking a different approach to this situation, it is interesting to note how little the non-Jewish press has been focusing on the Al Durah affair. It is certain that the French channel of France 2 has announced the legal decision and that a couple of articles have been written about it in mainstream newspapers. Nevertheless, if one addresses a random person in the streets of Paris, the latter may not even know that the legal procedure was taking place.

The problem is that in this case as in many others, Israeli issues seem to remain a Jewish-only topic. As a matter of public relations and an overall strategic approach Israeli organizations and influential individuals in the pro-Israeli sphere are failing to properly communicate the extent and the gravity of these incidents and attacks.

This needs to be closely analyzed as, at the same time, pro-Palestinian groups are vastly succeeding in making their discourse recognized as a global plight based on an internationalist human rights agenda.

The question based on who takes interest in Israeli and Jewish affairs is essential as it determines the level of support the Jewish State receives and will receive by governments and organizations in the coming years.

The Al Durah affair should then be considered for what it is: a landmark case of overt lies by a national television at the highest level. The fact that the victim of this prejudice has been the State of Israel, its citizens and Jewish individuals worldwide is certainly a main part of the equation but not the only one.

Pro-Israel media and associations whose objective is the well-being of the Jewish State need to fine tune their message in such a way that the understanding of the Al Durah hoax overpasses the “Jewish-Only” stamp. The message  must win the interest of the majority of the population since it is now clear that in Europe the suffering of Israelis by the hand of terrorists does no longer seem to gain the attention of the public opinion.

This refocus needs to essentially be based on the following question: why does a given government or corporation allow the use of false information for political ends and provide its support to unethical journalism? By approaching the case through this prism, the Al Durah affair is no longer a Jewish-only issue as it becomes a clear questioning of the democratic health of the French public sphere.

As pro-Israeli organizations struggle in the public relations campaign in regard to their anti-Israeli adversaries, it is necessary to take the following three steps to shift the message’s focus and increase the number of individuals and associations that may feel implicated by the matter.

The first step is based on developing a communication strategy that sees the threat or the accident as a global problem. The “make it global” approach is essential as Israel cannot only rely on its direct support. To quell critics and counter-argue anti-Israeli propaganda, the Jewish State’s affairs need to be understood worldwide. The Al Durah case is instrumental in this procedure. Apart from its devastating effects such as the second intifada, the killing of Daniel Pearl and the Mohammed Merah massacre, the orchestrated reportage raises questions over media impartiality and the available over watch regarding journalists’ works. In those terms, a wider branch of the non-Jewish society may be interested by the case.

The second step is to integrate as many individual details to the coverage as possible. By “Making it personal” it is possible to captivate the audience. It has been verified time and again that little attention is paid to the suffering of Israelis. Thus, instead of focusing the message on the victims, pro-Israeli organizations need to pro-actively target the perpetrators by providing as many arguments to question their work and their supposed neutrality as possible.

The last point is the most important one. The first two steps are unlikely to get to the core of the anti-Israeli message which is now well developed and settled into the European mind. For this, the last question that need to be addressed is :”why should it be acceptable to treat Israel this way?” Why does Israel deserve this “special treatment”? The answer is as important as the doubts it creates in the minds of the uninformed masses. If a public figure is ready to openly declare his anti-Israeli feelings or his anti-Semitism, it will create a debate about his or her conviction. If the person does not do that then  it must be requested that Israel is treated as any other regular country, with dignity and respect.

About the Author
Riccardo Dugulin is an independant international affairs analyst. He holds a Master in International Security from the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Po) and has worked in leading think tanks in Washington DC, Beirut and Dubai and has held the position of security coordinator for a security assistance firm.