Take the Bait, Pay the PRice

On this day when America honors its war heroes, we’re awakened to news of an “Israeli attack” on six vessels carrying “humanitarian aid” to the terrorist-controlled Gaza Strip. Presumably the decision by Israel’s cognoscenti to militarily confront this Security Council member-sponsored flotilla, was not made lightly…or was it?

The Israelis no doubt weighed the PR consequences of such a unilateral action. I just wonder whether the Jewish state would find itself in such hot water had it adequately trumpeted its military intentions and POV before any actual blood was spilled.

This morning’s report of ten (or more) deaths at the hands of armed Israeli soldiers will set back the state of Israel’s (perpetual) mission to generate public empathy for the safety, security and sovereignty of its own citizens.

Truth be told: the Israelis were set up and they took the bait. They were entrapped by an insidious Palestinian (and Turkish) PR ploy. From Globes:

The crisis is still at its height but this is still the time to wonder how Israel managed to walk into such an obvious and painful propaganda trap that took the lives of some young Turks.”

It mattered little that those “activists” had attacked first (with “knives and clubs”) or if they were even Hamas suicide pawns intending to die all along. The headlines the action produced were damning.

So what could Prime Minister Netanyahu have done differently to avert the global crisis he now faces?

  • Did anyone really know that both the Israeli and Egyptian governments had offered to ensure that this aid reached the Gazans or that Israel has a massive humanitarian aid program already in place?
  • Could Israel have publicized its intentions to board the ship to pre-empt the negative splash of global headlines?
  • Maybe a real-time feed (via Twitter or UStream) reporting Israeli advance prep, the actual boarding and the eventual confrontation could have helped mitigate today’s crisis? (To its credit, a video was released after the fact.)

The Israelis, now faced with global condemnation and more, must do some serious back-peddling to explain its three-year-old blockade of Gaza and its “surprise” military action in international waters using guns against clubs.

Good luck with that. Once again, the Palestinians beat the Israelis at the PRopaganda game. As Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic writes “on the Disappearance of Jewish Wisdom, Far Out at Sea:”

“I had breakfast this very unhappy morning in Jerusalem with Daniel Gordis, the author of many wise books, including one I just began reading, “Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End.” Gordis opens the first chapter with a quote from the Babylonian Talmud: “Who is wise? The one who can foresee consequences.”

Now let’s keep an eye on the copycat a**hole behind @IsraelGlobalPR.


  1. Hi Peter,

    As American publicist living in Israel, you don’t know (or want to know) the half of it. Unfortunately the need to participate in the PR game doesn’t really factor into consideration for the Israeli government (or they would have instead sent a boat with children who have grown up Sderot under attack of Palestinian rocket fire holding flowers). Instead, the government is lead by a moral compass and a tremendous sense of self-belief, factors which have served the country very well at times, but do not help in the PR battle. To Israel’s credit, reporters from Reuters and AP where on the Israeli Navy’s boat.

    Despite the presence of some very talented communications people, the moral belief’s and the shadow of the Holocaust cause Israel to do the wrong things for the right reasons.

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