What should we be preparing for and mobilizing for on the international stage?
We have entered Act 2 of the war of 2023, the act where all of us need to raise our voices if we are to come out victorious. The first act was defined by the singularly horrific massacres carried out by Hamas the bloody Shabbat of October 7, 2023. By the unthinkable kidnapping of babies, grandmothers, sons and daughters. Global sympathy was significant, and vocal, as much of the developed world stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel to carry the burden of trauma. This international consensus empowered Israel to respond swiftly, reducing fear of a northern front, ensuring Israel would get the supplies it needed to defend the home front while it carried out its military campaign.
This second act will be defined by the massive ground invasion of Gaza, whether we believe this is a strategically sound decision or not. Even the preview of this act — the bombardment of key defensive infrastructure and spot incursions by IDF units — has led to condemnation by international organizations, calls for immediate ceasefire, sympathy with the Palestinians.
To help bring our loved ones home, and enable the success of the operation to achieve total victory over Hamas, those of us not on the physical front lines need to invest everything we have into public diplomacy.
Given the reference scenario that the ground offensive will begin this week (the week of October 15), that it will be waged professionally with minimal Israeli casualties, that Israel’s home front will remain under threat but relatively safe from projectile impact, and that the northern front will remain tense but relatively inactive, I recommend those of us able to keep the following in mind:
- Always focus on the one thing that matters: Hostages. Every mother, father, sister and brother in the world fears their loved one will be taken from them. Kidnapped. We have more than our share of movies and books celebrating the mother or father who will do anything to get their loved ones back for that reason. The hostages are the only thing that will continue to justify our campaign in the eyes of the world. And yet there are so many, we need to focus: every communication should begin and end with the name of a single hostage or family of hostages taken, and a demand they be returned home.
- Don’t waste your time with the haters: Israel has never lacked haters who doubt her, who do not accept her legitimacy, who do not believe our ancient people deserve a home of their own. Time spent arguing with these people only furthers the fog of war. Ignore them. Or shame them. But do not argue with them.
- Specialize on your skillset, and collaborate. As much as possible, join groups, and groups should specialize on their strengths: grassroots dissemination, graphic design, guerilla marketing, media operations. A number of excellent civilians are working around the clock to raise international support: October7, Voices for Hostages, Bring Them Home Now, Survived to Tell, Startups Speak Up. The clearer each group will be able to communicate its strengths, the easier it will be for the groups to work together.
- Pool resources means more for everyone: As a courtesy to the families as well as for the sake of efficiency, groups should pool stories and quotes. There are some wonderful efforts already doing so, and we can do better to clearly reflect which have been used so that the public does not feel it is getting rehashed content.
- Amplify & celebrate: Each effort for public opinion should amplify the communications of the others, and celebrate wins such as major media coverage or public statements by decision makers. We are fighting for the lives of our loved ones and every push to re-center public opinion behind us matters.
We have just lived through one of the most traumatic experiences a people can experience, still within living memory from one of the most traumatic experiences humanity has experienced. We have a right to be loud, to demand justice, to coerce the return of our loved ones. To ensure our signal cuts through the noise we will need to be more disciplined in our messaging in this second act of the war. We need to harness the creative energies unleashed by the trauma of last week and focus together on ensuring the international community commits daily to bringing our loved ones back home.