With a new round of fighting around the corner, at the threshold of the Jewish New Year, the time has come to reconsider ways to welcome the media who will arrive in droves once again.
There is a false notion, which we hear over and over, that the press arrive in Jerusalem with an anti-Israel agenda.
Allow me to share a professional perspective, after 32 years of working with the press as they arrive in Israel, providing every level of service they provide to the media.
The office that I established at the press center in Jerusalem in 1987 known as the Israel Resource News Agency, has provided individualized service for more than 500 reporters, as they cover Israel.
My estimate is that about 10% of the reporters who arrive in Israel come with an anti-Israel attitude.
Another 15% of the media who arrive in Israel come with a very positive inclination.
That leaves 75% of the media who begin in the middle and who can be swayed one way or the other.
Why, then, do we witness the majority of journalists, even if they who start out “somewhere in the middle” wind up with an anti-Israel attitude?
The answer lies in the marketing strategy that the PLO has nurtured over 30 years ago.
The PLO arranges every level of hospitality to the foreign press when they get here – often in an indirect manner.
Back in 1988, in the first stage of the Intifada uprising , our office placed two staffers inside the PLO Jerusalem media training seminar for hundreds of Arab murder convicts who had been exchanged for 6 Israeli soldiers.
These murder convicts were trained to present themselves as if they were human rights activists who had been arrested for carrying signs in a peace demonstration.
NGOs, not inclined to ask for the “police records” of “political prisoners”, too often fell for the ruse and misidentified PLO killers as human rights activists who had been imprisoned for innocuous peace activities.
Back in 1989, Israel Resource made up a chart which of 24 seemingly independent NGO’s who were then making presentations for the foreign media , with PLO staffers at their behest.
At the time, the PLO placed their experts at the service of the press to act as stringers and presented themselves as objective observers of the scene for the foreign press. Again, no news agency asked to see their police records.
That is how the PLO won over the majority of journalists,that is how the PLO continues to win the hearts and minds of the press.
Today, hundreds of Ngo’s act in the service of the PLO as they welcome the media on their arrival in Israel.
Check out NGOMONITOR.com. You will see it how the outreach strategy of the PLO has worked.
How should Israel media advocates counter and compete with this approach?
Simple. Learn the art of outreach and hospitality, and never assume that the press arrives in Israel with a predisposed anti-Israel approach.
Israel media advocates should line the tables at the American Colony Hotel, the favorite hang-out of the foreign press.
Order Arab coffee and wait to pounce.
Remember that Abraham was the hero of hospitality.
There is no reason for Ishmael to be the only heir of Abraham in this respect.