Why the media blitz failed

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a press conference at the port of Eilat standing opposite the weapons seized by the Israeli navy last week on board a commercial vessel. This press conference was the culmination of a week-long effort to publicize the IDF’s successful operation and highlight that while the world powers continue to negotiate with Iran regarding its nuclear plan, the Islamic Republic is actively arming terror organizations in the Middle East destabilizing an already volatile region of the world.

Like Iran’s charm offensive, referred to by some as Operation Desert Schmooze, the all-out media blitz by the Israeli government was meant to create a perfect Desert Storm. Using all media channels at its disposal, including digital media channels, Israel’s government emphasized time and again that the weapons on board the Cloze C vessels were financed and shipped by Iran.

The blitz was successful amongst local audiences. On Wednesday afternoon, several hours after the IDF released footage of the daring military raid, many Israelis began posting thank you notes on the IDF’s Facebook page saying “a day of national pride” and “Me and my children thank the brave soldiers”.

The blitz was a complete failure amongst international audiences, with the exception of the Kosher tweetosphere. The IDF footage posted on YouTube, Netanyahu’s tweets, and even the IDF’s info-graphics proved a box office bomb

Some Israeli analysts claimed that the reason was timing. The world is currently occupied with the Crimean crisis and has no time to deal with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “Crimea river” routine. The same is true for international news channels who had little place above the fold for the massive Cloze C vessel.  The response from the European Union to the Israeli blitz was a visit by Catharine Ashton, the EU’s foreign affairs representative, to Iran.

The message arising from the Israeli digital offensive was simple enough- we have unmasked Iran. We have revealed the true nature of Teheran. Rouhani is the face, the Ayatollah is the mind


What Prime Minister Netanyahu has yet to realize is that there is no need to reveal Iran’s true face. The world powers currently negotiating with Iran are familiar with this country and its regime. They have much of the intelligence Israel has. They are aware of Iran’s terror activity and they have entered these negotiations with their eyes absolutely wide open, as John Kerry said.

Iran’s support of terror organization will not deter theses powers from returning to the negotiating table. Not because they are Anti-Semitic, not because they are blind and not because they practice appeasement. They are willing to remain at the table because they believe that the only thing that will force Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions and export of terror is the re-introduction of Iran to the league of distinguished nations. Led by the US, the world powers aim to integrate Iran into the global economy forcing the Ayatollah’s to ponder if the price of the bomb is still right.

The Crimean crisis proves that this policy has merit. Thirty years ago, Russian President Putin may have sent the tanks rolling into Kiev. Today he hesitates as he knows his Russia cannot endure what the Soviet empire could endure in the summer of Prague, complete economic isolation. Europe is also limited in its response to Russia’s aggression as Russia is its main supplier of energy. The economic glue that ties together the EU now ties Europe with Russia. What the United States, UK, Germany and France hope is that Iran will face the same dilemma in a few months’ time.

Israel’s current problem isn’t with the medium; it’s with the message and the rationale behind the message. The negotiations with Teheran will continue. The sanctions will be lifted. And as Iran finds its place in the world, Israel must find its place in the Middle East. Ending the conflict with the Palestinians would be a good place to start.

About the Author
Ilan Manor is finishing his mass media studies at Tel Aviv University. He has previously contributed to the Jerusalem Post, +972 Magazine, the Jewish Daily Forward and On Second Thought magazine. His Hebrew-language blog has been featured several times in the Israeli press.
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