PR in Pithy Sonata Form

Israel has been falsely accused of genocide by genocidal Hamasniks in a moral inversion that channels notorious Nazi propagandist Goebbels’ vile dictums, “Accuse the other of that you are guilty” and “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

As if this groundless allegation were not ludicrous enough, this week we learned about the new lawfare offensive against Israel by the ICC. Interestingly, the ICC prosecutor did not accuse Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gallant of genocide, in the absurd application seeking their arrest, but he did make other baseless allegations. It should be noted that this new manufactured proceeding against Israel was reportedly formulated by a cabal of Hamas and PFLP members and representatives of the PA, as well as, NGO supporters and other fellow travelers, in collusion with the ICC. Similarly, the baseless charge that Israel is using ‘starvation as a weapon of war’, a false narrative that is contrary to the actual facts on the ground. The groundless slurs are contrived; there was no actual investigation conducted by the ICC prosecutor on site.

President Biden categorically rejected the ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders. In a written statement, posted online at the White House website, he stated, “The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous. And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence-none- between Israel and Hamas.” In a recent speech on the subject, he also noted, “Contrary to allegations made against Israel in the International Court of Justice, what’s happening is not genocide.”

Nevertheless, Israel and the Jewish community at large are being barraged with the ‘genocide’ blood libel in a massively funded and premeditated propaganda and antisemitic slur campaign. It has infected the minds of a number of collegiates and other ignorant useful dupes.

Never mind that the UN itself just recently admitted that the Hamas figures it previously published grossly overstated deaths among women and children by almost half. Yet, notwithstanding this shocking disclosure, which amount to connivance by the UN in Hamas’ propaganda campaign, there are few, if any, apologies by world leader and media figures, who embraced the big lie, and no let-up in the pro-Hamas, anti-Israel and anti-American protests.

Israel government spokesperson Avi Hyman noted Israel has been “condemned globally because of a fake and fabricated civilian death toll created and disseminated by Hamas. “ He went on to say, “The United Nations has rubber-stamped these Hamas numbers and become a Hamas newswire to the world,” He declared, “In reality, Israel is setting the new gold standard for urban warfare with what appears to be the lowest civilian to combatant casualty ratios in history.” Real experts on war like John Spencer and Richard Kemp agree. Moreover, some have suggested even the reduced figures are overstated, inasmuch as they also include deaths from natural causes and of armed teenage Hamas soldiers, who are actual enemy combatants. Therefore, the true figure for collateral deaths of civilians is even lower.

Many in the media have also been complicit in perpetuating this ugly genocide blood libel. Instead of challenging the big lie, they perpetuate it, in what has come to be known as ‘Gazalighting’, a play on words derived from the colloquial term ‘gaslighting’. Also, the fact that Hamas is a US designated foreign terrorist organization is rarely, if ever, mentioned nor are explicit warnings given against trusting terrorist Hamas.

I also can’t help but wonder why recognized experts like John Spencer or other Defense Department Law of War experts are not consulted, as a part of real investigative reporting on the subject. In this regard, here’s an excerpt from US Department of Defense, Law of War Manual (§ “The party that employs human shields in an attempt to shield military objectives from attack assumes responsibility for their injury. However, the enemy use of voluntary human shields may be considered as a factor in assessing the legality of an attack. Based on the facts and circumstances of a particular case, the commander may determine that persons characterized as voluntary human shields are taking a direct part in hostilities.”

Traditional Hasbara (a Hebrew term, meaning explanation) methodology is ill-equipped to handle the challenge. The PR techniques employed by Hamasnicks have been deliberately designed brazenly to subvert and distort the truth, using explosive words and images to trigger a purely emotional response that is virtually immune to reason. In this netherworld of ruthless sloganeering that disdains truth and eschews civility and reasoned debate, there is no genuine opportunity for explanations.

Indeed, if you have to explain, then you have already lost, as I was once advised by a pro-Israel Congressman. It is prudent counsel, especially when entering the boiling caldron of campus protests, advocating virtuous sounding themes that thinly disguise antisemitic and anti-American agendas. Similarly, when interfacing with an often biased media establishment; there is no time to engage in long-winded explanations. The key is immediately to go on the offensive with a pithy reportable remark. This lesson is also applicable to the heated political arena, where sound bites that make the evening news are de rigueur not soaring rhetoric.

Israel is winning its just and legal defensive ground war against evil Hamas in Gaza and it can win on the PR battlefront too, but it needs to refresh its tools. The good people of America are waking up and rejecting the evil that is Hamas and its repugnant sponsor the terrorist Iranian regime. 79% of Americans polled in the latest Harvard Harris poll (May 15-16, 2024) rightly support Israel in the war started by Hamas, 69% correctly believe Israel is seeking to minimize civilian casualties, 78% agree Hamas must be removed from running Gaza and 74% favor Israel proceeding with the Rafah operation and finishing Hamas. The poll also discloses the nuanced understanding of what a ceasefire means to the American people. Thus 66% oppose a ceasefire unless the hostages are released and Hamas is removed from power.

It is critical to go on the offensive because being defensive is a losing strategy. Consider how complex musical themes are presented in Sonata Form. First there is the exposition of the theme. Then it is developed and at the end it is recapitulated.

Why not begin briefings with a pithy quotable sound bite that summarizes the theme of the talk. Then repeat it throughout the presentation. This maximizes the potential for the media to report it, because it provides them with what they truly want, quotable click bait that they can immediately report.

In this regard, it is important succinctly and forcefully to state the message, before engaging in any debate. Thus, when addressing the matter of collateral damage to civilians, the statement might begin with Israel is conducting a just and legal defensive war against Genocidal Hamas rapists, kidnappers, murderers and perpetrators of sadistic atrocities. In war there is collateral damage, but Israel has the lowest civilian to military casualty ratio in the history of urban warfare. Later, there can be further discussion of John Spencer’s brilliant analysis and the fallacious nature of the Hamas casualty figures, as shown by a number of respected experts and now even admitted by the UN. It is also extremely important to have message discipline.

Other important themes are that the Jewish people are the indigenous people of the Land of Israel and Israel has the preeminent right to sovereignty. This position should not be ceded or ignored. It’s the Hamasniks who are seeking to eliminate the Jews and Israel and steal all of the Land of Israel.

Today’s Israel is a diverse and multicultural democratic state that boasts freedom of religion, speech and equal rights for all. This is unlike the PA and Hamas governed areas, where there are no such freedoms, women are second-class citizens, Jews are not allowed, Christians are a dwindling oppressed minority and individuals identifying as LGBTQ+ are callously murdered.

Explosive terms like genocide, apartheid and occupation have no applicability legally or factually to Israel. Their contrived use by Hamas and its cohorts to libel Israel is preposterous and risible. Indeed, yet again, in another moral inversion, Hamasniks project unto others their own sins and misdeeds.

A key next step for Israel is to centralize the PR function so that there is clear direction and not the current situation where every person in government does what is good in their own eyes. It is suggested that the unity war cabinet seek immediately to pass a law in the Knesset to centralize the PR function. Clear lines of authority must be established and areas of responsibility must be defined to avoid any confusion. The law should also establish a necessary budget for the fulfillment of this vital role in the war against terrorism.

There is an overwhelming need for one voice and message discipline and having effective communicators. Self-interested posturing can be harmful in the global PR battle against those supporting terrorism. There is no latitude when it comes to the unforgiving world media and political environment. Mixed messaging is to be avoided in the extreme. There is no substitute for having someone in complete charge of this function to effectuate the will of the unity government as a part of the overall defensive war effort.

May Israel succeed on all fronts including the PR one, totally defeating evil Hamas and bringing those kidnapped and the valiant soldiers of the IDF home safely.

About the Author
Leonard Grunstein, a retired attorney and banker, founded and served as Chairman of Metropolitan National Bank and then Israel Discount Bank of NY. He also founded Project Ezrah and serves on the Board of Revel at Yeshiva University and the AIPAC National Council. He has published articles in the Banking Law Journal, Real Estate Finance Journal and other fine publications.
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